GUAM stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova: four former Soviet states that are increasingly menaced by Russia. Indeed, Russia invaded Georgia a few weeks ago. These four countries have already formed the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. Fortunately, the international community’s balancing against Russia is providing additional support for the GUAM states, both from Europe and the United States.
The Eastern Partnership was already in the works — the May 2008 plan to begin bringing in the remaining countries of central Europe into the European Union:
“To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours…they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership],” Mr Sikorski said, urging the eastern countries to follow the example of the Visagrad Group set up in 1991 by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of their EU integration efforts.
“We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural,” the Polish minister said.
The preperation was well prepared… now there is talk of a visa and free trade area. See this article published today, by China’s Xinhua news agency
BRUSSELS, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU) is to launch the Eastern Partnership to boost ties with its eastern neighbors by the end of the year, an EU commissioner said here Tuesday.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, made the announcement at a joint press conference after meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze.
The Eastern Partnership, proposed by Poland and Sweden and approved at the EU summit in June, would cover countries including Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, she said.
“We will have to see how far we can go. There should be greater economic integration, more mobility and more tools to help solve the security situation and resolve frozen conflicts,” the commissioner said.
Under the partnership, the EU will enhance regional cooperation between these countries and open bilateral negotiations with each one of them on a visa regime and free trade areas.
The EU is expected to make decisions on such a partnership, an extension of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), in late autumn or by the December European Council, according to Ferrero-Waldner.
The EU is able to make life easier for GUAM from an economic perspective. The US is able to assert its interests in other ways:
As he starts a tour of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, Mr Cheney will try to allay fears that Russia’s campaign in Georgia has fatally damaged a cornerstone of the West’s energy policy.
That message will be particularly potent in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, once the capital of the Soviet oil industry and now a pivotal ally of the United States.
The Caucasus region, between the gas-rich Caspian Sea and Turkey, provides the only energy pathway from Central Asia to Europe that does not traverse Russia or Iran.