Azerbaijan, Baku, May 4 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva /
If Ukraine would withdraw from the GUAM, it will be a great miscalculation of the Ukrainian authorities, as this kind of organization is necessary firstly for Kiev, experts say.
"Today, Ukraine yields many strategic positions for the sake of improving relations with Russia and GUAM falls in a list of such concessions," Expert of the Foreign Policy Institute of the Diplomatic Academy under the Ukrainians Foreign Ministry, Oleksandr Paliy, said. "While it is clear that if Ukraine would continue to pretend to an interesting regional role, then such organizations as the GUAM would be needed to Kiev in the first place."
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said that in the near future he intends to raise the question of reasonability of the country's membership to GUAM uniting Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
"Ukraine will continue membership in GUAM, if it gets practical benefits from such a format of cooperation," Yanukovych said in Strasburg in late April.
Four post-Soviet republics; Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, established the GUAM format in 1997 during a summit of presidents of European Union countries in Strasburg. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined this format, but after 4 years, quitted. In 2006, the first summit of this format in Kiev decided to declare GUAM an international organization with a new name: "Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM".
The observers believe the steps taken by the Ukrainian leadership in recent years motivated solely pro-Russian position of President Yanukovych. One step toward Moscow - withdrawal from GUAM - is not far-sighted decision, and especially for Kiev.
GUAM's reasonability should not be strictly tied to the political predilections of the member-states' leaders, Expert of the 'Lider- TV' analytical group Tofig Abbasov said.
"I think that Yanukovych's statement is little bit hasty, as Ukraine needs GUAM as an organization for economic cooperation, even more than, say, Azerbaijan," Abbasov told Trend.
He said Yanukovych's statement stems from a desire to sharply move away from the one pro-Western policy, to which Yushchenko was committed. But membership in such organizations should be strictly tied to the economic priorities and multilateral interests of member countries, Abbasov said.
Emotional tone is felt in Yanukovych's statement. In politics, they are sometimes forgivable, but in the economy, they often turn into tangible losses, Abbasov said.
"In economics, this reflects elements of risk, because one can not cross that was made by the previous leadership with a single movement. Russia is strong, but that does not mean that today Moscow is ready to replace to Kiev all the partners with which it fruitful relations were developed," Abbasov said.
Paliy said it is obvious that today the Ukrainian leadership demonstrates an extremely pro-Russian position, and GUAM was created as an organization of potential transit opportunities, bypassing Russia.
"Unfortunately, the Ukrainian leadership is not able to carry out the sovereign policies and in this sense GUAM has become a bargaining chip, although it is obvious that such organizations should not be squandered on another aspect of economic cooperation, as these issues of the state's regional influence - are not only economic issues," Paliy told Trend over the telephone.
Attempt to tightly consider such issue on the economic context is not correct and far-sighted, Paliy said.
However, even in the decay of GUAM, or Ukraine's withdrawal from the organization, relations between the member countries will remain the same, experts believe.
Director of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies Mikhail Pogrebinsky said Ukraine is truly needs Azerbaijan as a fast growing economy and the owner of energy.
"Yanukovych's team is clearly focused on maintaining the friendliest relations with Azerbaijan, if necessary - and in the framework of GUAM," Pogrebinsky told Trend over the telephone.
In case of GUAM's decay, bilateral cooperation between all members may be alternative to it, Paliy added. "In case of Ukraine's withdrawal from GUAM, Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as Azerbaijan and Ukraine will continue to work already on a bilateral basis, but the general area will already have no meaning," he said.
According to Abbasov, the very GUAM-Russia opposition lost its relevance, as in the past 10 years the emphasis has been shifted.
Initially, all regarded GUAM, in the formation of which have been expressed principle interests by the U.S. and its allies from Europe, as the structure designed to withdraw the new states of the CIS from the orbit of Russian influence.
"But soon GUAM became a pronounced economic coalition thanks to the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's efforts. That is, Aliyev made it clear that it considers the issues of economic interests of Azerbaijan and its partners in the new environment only with regard to the interests of the Quartet countries, not to please to the West, or East," Abbasov said.
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