GUAM AND CONFLICT SETTLEMENT IN GEORGIA

Paata ZAKAREISHVILI


Paata Zakareishvili, Project head, Center for Development & Cooperation (CDC) (Tbilisi, Georgia)


On 22 April, 2005, the GUUAM members (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), who met in Chisinau to mark the organizations eighth anniversary, finally crossed the Rubicon. On that day the heads of the member states made public GUUAMs political ambitions. This ended the period of infantile disorder and the Big Brother syndrome. The fact that Uzbekistan rejected the new policy and left the structure meant that a new international political organization appeared. President of Uzbekistan Karimov first declined to attend the summit and then denounced all the treaties the country signed when his country joined the Organization. This and other signs testify that the sluggishly developing quasi-alliance became a hyper-active political structure. In other words, GUUAM became GUAM!

The Chisinau summit abounded in bold and fairly unexpected political statements, nevertheless, the members vehement criticism of Russias role and policy in the conflict zones in Abkhazia, the former South Ossetian Autonomous Region, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Transnistria sounded louder than the others. GUAM, which brought together the countries with frozen conflicts on their territories, finally acquired the self-confidence needed to put an end to the conflicts in the post-Soviet expanse. Since that time, the GUAM members have been trying to convince the international community that they should be involved in the decision-making. There are too many so-called operators and actors whose status obliges them to deal with the conflicts in the Central Caucasus and the Black Sea region.

To find a niche of its own and to contribute to the still absent dynamics in the settlement process, GUAM should study the menu the international organizations compiled, either on a permanent basis or sporadically, for the conflict settlement they have been following for the last 15 years. In Georgia the situation is fairly complicated: only a careful investigation will allow GUAM to identify its own conflict settlement potential.

There are two smoldering ethno-territorial conflicts in Georgia, the military stages of which have become frozen. Today the conflicts can be described as stagnating. I have in mind the conflict in Abkhazia where armed confrontation ended in the fall of 1993 and in the former South Ossetian Autonomous Region where fighting stopped in the summer of 1992. Since the ceasefire, relations between Tbilisi and Sukhumi and Tbilisi and Tskhinvali can be described as


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