By Rashid Shirinov
The 9th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the GUAM, the organization for democracy and economic development, kicked off on December 15 at Azerbaijan's Parliament, Baku.
The activity of the GUAM, bringing together Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, and future objectives of the cooperation between its members were the key topics of the session.
The GUAM has become an important platform for cooperation among member countries, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elmar Mammadyarov said addressing the session.
The minister also emphasized GUAM's significant role in the consolidation of efforts to address ongoing conflicts in the territories of the member states.
Mammadyarov further spoke about the importance of continuing efforts of the GUAM member countries on promoting at the UN General Assembly a draft resolution “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development”..
“Ensuring security, restoration of territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders and sovereignty of GUAM member states is vitally important for the GUAM and we should join our efforts on the settlement of conflicts,” added the foreign minister.
Mammadyarov also noted the importance of developing the organization’s cooperation with other authoritative international organizations, in particular, with the United Nations (UN), Baltic Assembly and Visegrad Group.
The issues of cooperation in energy and transportation spheres provide good opportunities for the organization’s member states in order to expand the geography of cooperation and open new opportunities to enter new markets, said Mammadyarov.
“The meeting of heads of governments of the GUAM member countries, scheduled for 2017, will be an important event and will make a huge contribution to the development of transportation corridors,” the minister said.
He also added that another important direction of cooperation of the GUAM member countries is the joint fight against terrorism and international crime.
Addressing the meeting, Deputy Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Valeh Alasgarov hailed the growing influence of the GUAM.
He noted that more and more countries and international organizations are keen on cooperation with the GUAM.
The GUAM plays an important role in ensuring regional security, Alasgarovsaid, further stressing that the GUAM also contributes greatly to the development and strengthening of dialogue between the countries of the region.
“Transnational projects, which are being implemented by the GUAM countries, ensure energy security of Europe,” added Alasgarov.
He also touched upon the conflicts existing in the GUAM area. The vice-speaker said that member countries have a common position on this and oppose the conflicts.
“We are confident that these efforts will give results and all conflicts will be resolved in line with international norms and principles,” Alasgarov added.
The GUAM is becoming more attractive organization and moves to a higher level of international cooperation, said Altay Efendiyev, Secretary General of the GUAM.
The Secretary General further outlined the organization's priorities for the next year.
"First and foremost, it is necessary to combine efforts to resolve existing conflicts in the GUAM area, "said Efendiyev.
"GUAM as a regional organization has a political platform, and in the framework of the organization its member countries must come up with a common position on many issues, in particular to resist aggression, occupation of the territories of the member states by other countries," said the secretary general.
Efendiyev also emphasized the necessity of joining efforts to promote economic cooperation, in particular to increase the volume of trade turnover, create conditions for reliable competitive transport corridors and develop cooperation between small-businesses of the member countries.
The GUAM format was created by four post-Soviet states in 1997 during the summit of heads of states of the EU in Strasbourg. The member states of the organization are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the format and four years later withdrew.
In 2006, Ukraine and Azerbaijan announced plans to further increase the GUAM member relations and established its headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship in GUAM on January 1, 2016.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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