GUAM leaders hold plenary meeting at Baku summit

A plenary meeting of the leaders of GUAM member states was held today in Baku. The presidents of Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Moldova delivered addresses at the meeting and later signed a declaration on regional cooperation.

In his address Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke at length about the importance of GUAM and its future prospects and concentrated especially on the settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. Saakashvili noted that in South Ossetia there are both separatist forces and forces with whom it is possible to cooperate. He considers the Georgian-backed temporary South Ossetian administration headed by Dmitriy Sanakoyev to be such a force. It is possible to speak with them about autonomy within Georgia, he said, adding that this was "unprecedented" in post-Soviet space. The Georgian president believes that it is important to involve the international community, specifically GUAM, in conflict settlement efforts and also noted the important role played by Russia. Saakashvili said that European bodies also recognize that the level of autonomy being offered to Georgia's separatist regions is unprecedented and that international organizations also support Georgia's initiatives.

After the meeting, the leaders signed several declarations and held a joint news conference where they spoke primarily on the separatist conflicts in GUAM member states. The Georgian president said "the clock is ticking" on separatist leader Eduard Kokoyty's regime and that his rule over the region would end within a few months. Saakashvili gave a final warning to the de facto president.

"There is no frozen conflict there and, to be honest, there is no conflict among local people and there practically never has been. There are only concrete punishable criminal acts committed by several concrete explosive local people who have a criminal past and a criminal present. I want to warn comrade Kokoyev [Kokoyty] that his time is coming to an end. We are beginning talks with the government of Dmitriy Sanakoyev, with the temporary administration, about autonomy and everything else. We will give Ossetians everything they have ever dreamt of in Georgia. This issue will be resolved in the coming few months. Georgia has all the necessary resources to resolve this issue peacefully, but quickly and in a timely manner. We do not intend to put this issue off forever, because all patience has its limit, let alone when it comes to these comrades. We love Ossetians and we are ready to exercise great patience in the reintegration process," Saakashvili said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said that GUAM should work to facilitate the settlement of the region's frozen conflicts and spoke about replacing the Russian peacekeepers currently overseeing these conflicts with GUAM contingents. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stressed that the organization should work to put an end to regional separatism.

"As an organization, GUAM does not have a conflict settlement mechanism. GUAM is an organization whose political importance is constantly growing. It has a clear-cut position in regard to this issue. This position is that our countries' territorial integrity must be restored, their occupation should be stopped an end must be put to the separatist regimes. We represent multiethnic countries and all citizens of these countries should live together in peace. We must take into account the positive experience that Europe has had with autonomous bodies," Aliyev said.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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