The second summit of the Organization for democracy and economic development - GUAM [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan Moldova] is taking place in Baku today and tomorrow. The Ukrainian delegation is headed by the President Yushchenko; the Polish president Lech Kaczynski is present too. Also attending are presidents Aliyev and Saakashvili, as well as Moldovan PM prime minister Vasil Tarlev.
One of the topics being discussed is the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline and its possible extension to Plock.
GUAM was set up partly to reduce energy dependence on Russia, so all of this sounds quite promising. But egghead James Sherr provides a more sober picture of Ukraine's position in an interview in 'Glavred'.
When asked why Ukraine has not become the regional leader e.g. in GUAM, he replies:
"... the main political forces in Ukraine are divided in terms of those directions, which actually are significant - NATO, Russia and energy policy and security. Only a few months ago it seemed that GUAM could become a point of resistance on the question of energy safety - in particular concerning the reduction of energy dependence on Russia. But how can Ukraine lead these efforts, if its ministry of power is doing all it can to increase this dependence? If Ukraine itself does not know what she wants and where she is going, how an she be the leader of something?" - asks Sherr.
The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine discussed the unsatisfactory state of national energy security last Friday, but minister for fuel and energy Yuriy Boyko, and deputy prime minister Andriy Klyuyev, seemed to have managed to avoid sustaining major damage. Some say the NSDC meeting was cut short because the president and others wanted to rush off to meet Elton John at Viktor Pinchuk's art gallery later that day..
p.s. Experts suggest that Kazakhstan could join GUAM at some time. Makes for an interesting word puzzle - gukam? gmuka? gumak?