GUAM: OLD PROBLEMS AND NEW CHALLENGES
Vladimir Ivanov, Fellow at the Institute of Political Studies (Erevan, Armenia)
The post-Soviet states, which deemed it necessary to set up regional structures, have done and are doing their best to identify foreign policy priorities geared toward their national interests.
In fact, until the mid-1990s, when at least some of the states remained vague about their foreign policy orientations, no regional alliances were possible. For many reasons the Common Caucasian Home idea can be dismissed as still-born.
By the mid-1990s, most of the new independent states had formulated more or less clear foreign policy ideas and were prepared to ally with fellow thinkers. As a result several regional structures were set up.
In 1997, several countries intent on pursuing foreign and domestic policies independent of the Russian Federation set up GUAM. While the situation remained stable, with Moscow retreating under Western pressure, the contradictions inside the organization remained dormant; after the war in South Ossetia, however, some members deemed it necessary to readjust their regional priorities. The conflict laid bare the contradictions present in this structure (in fact no post-Soviet organization is free from them). Vladimir Papava has offered the following comment: “The fact that this structure has existed for many years shows that each country individually, as well as the organization they represent as a whole still have many unresolved problems.”
The war in South Ossetia bred pessimism about the future of GUAM in the expert community. At least some of its members, Modest Kolerov being one of them, doubted its chances for survival because of Russia’s greater role. Those who asserted this proceeded from the fate of similar organizations.
Indeed, GUAM, like the Single Economic Expanse, the CIS, and certain other structures, has not avoided a great share of skepticism. Indeed, the diverging foreign policy interests of the Russian Federation and GUAM occasionally developed into open confrontation. On top of this, GUAM has enough inner ulcers of its own which have finally brought it face to face with the threat of de facto disappearance.
GUAM: What Keeps It Together
Experts point to two major factors—regional and extra-regional—which created GUAM and keep it afloat.
D. Voronkova, for example, has pointed out: “Those who analyze international relations are convinced that the United States contributed to the emergence of GU(U)AM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) as a regional international organization. It was the U.S. that initiated GU(U)AM ‘to graft geopolitical pluralism to the post-Soviet expanse’ and…………