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RUSSIA: The CIS, Ukraine and GUUAM

When the Soviet Union broke up,it was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Now we hear little about the CIS. However, there is another organization, GUUAM, which excludes Russia and seems to represent an attempt by the Ukraine to assert leadership in the area. Its representatives gathered in Ukraine's Black Sea resort of Yalta, but only two of the five presidents attended the summit. The GUUAM representatives discussed creating a free-trade zone, the group's original purpose. They endorsed offshoot agreements on customs, trade, and transport. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with the ambassadors of the five GUUAM countries in Washington to discuss prospects for projects in transportation and trade and cooperation between law enforcement agencies. GUUAM was formed in 1997 in France by the presidents of Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. Uzbekistan joined in April 1999, several weeks after it pulled out of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. GUUAM has never portrayed itself as a counterbalance to the six CIS countries that remain in the Collective Security Treaty Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Belarus. But the fact remains that much attention has been drawn to this division of the CIS into GUUAM and CIS Collective Security Treaty countries, with Turkmenistan remaining neutral and outside both groupings. (RFE/RL)

Ronald Hilton - 7/11/03