Right on the eve of the meeting Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said he had doubts about the expediency of Uzbekistan's further staying in the GUUAM organization. According to Islam Karimov, these doubts were based on the "political line pursued today by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova".
Not that this stance regarding GUUAM is new. Uzbekistan suspended its membership in GUUAM already in 2003. After that Islam Karimov failed to take part in GUUAM summits, though his representatives did attend the meetings of the national coordinators of the organization. Nevertheless, the attitude voiced last week by Islam Karimov, seems to reflect the substance of the differences corroding GUUAM from inside.
Founded in 1997, GUUAM was meant to be solely an economic organization, but with a clearly expressed anti-Russian orientation. Georgia, Ukraine and Moldavia were eager to reduce their dependence on Russian energy carriers, while Azerbaijan and later on Uzbekistan would like to export their energy resources via routes other than Russia. Active support for this "initiative" came from Washington which hoped to partake of the slicing of the petroleum "pie" on post-Soviet territory.
However, the past seven years have shown that GUUAM's economic efficiency was approaching zero. Over this period the US came to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq and gained ample geopolitical space for setting up other alternative projects. Georgian and Azerbaijani hopes for getting high revenues from the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan "corridor" gradually dwindled away.
GUUAM started ever more acquiring the features of a military-political alliance. This tendency prevailed after Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan left the CIS Collective Security Treaty. Nowadays economic problems, when and if discussed at GUUAM meetings, have a very low priority rating. Top priority is given to problems of regional security, fighting terrorism and separatism, and other "threats to the national security of the member states and neighboring countries". This happens mostly on Georgia's initiative, no doubt to be joined now by Ukraine. Tbilisi and Kiev's orientation on NATO and EC dictates this course of developments.
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Moldova fear, and with reason, that GUUAM's transparent orientation on Euro-Atlantic structures may, in some way or another, provoke external interference in the inner political processes in these countries, as evidenced by the events in Kiev and Tbilisi. Electronic media have already been publishing lists of those countries where next "colored revolutions" may soon erupt. The above threesome occupy honorary top places in these lists.
The seemingly brotherly relations between Georgia and Ukraine are far from being cloudless either. Experts think that very soon Tbilisi and Kiev will start fighting over the role of "the West's most dear darling on post-Soviet soil", and the position of GUUAM's informal leader may pass from Saakashvili to Yushchenko, which, considering the Georgian president's ambitions, is pregnant with most lamentable consequences for the alliance.
So GUUAM is evidently comprised of too differing states for this alliance to be stable and long-lasting. Some analysts predict that the summit of this organization planned to take place in Kishinev next April, may become the last one for GUUAM in its present-day constitution and format. The pact will either come apart, or be transformed into something quite different.