Exclusive interview of the Co-Director Oleksiy Melnik, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes Razumkov Centre, (Kyiv, Ukraine)
1. How do You assess the prospects for the activation of the GUAM?
We should not expect too much from GUAM due to its composition, capacities and the record of previous deliveries so far. Having said that, I believe the GUAM’s potential has been essentially both undervalued and misused by official Kyiv. First of all, it is important to mention that GUAM was established by four former Soviet Republics as an alternative to Russia-led organisations in the post-Soviet space. Despite GUAM has not positioned itself as an anti-Russian one, I think that the fact of having the Russian challenge as a common issue for all the participating states may serve as powerful incentive for their cooperation in the GUAM format. Since 2014 all of them have frozen conflicts inspired and supported by the RF. It would be absolutely logical to establish a kind of coalition for coordination and combination of policies and actions against the common adversary. What is needed to activate the GUAM is the leadership, clear declaration of common interests among the GUAM members and even small but very practical deliveries.
2. What can be expected from the oncoming NATO Summit in Brussels?
In my opinion, no fundamentally new outcomes are to be expected. Definitely this Summit will make assessments of the decisions made and elaborate the outcomes from the previous Warsaw and Wale’s summits. It is also clear, that the same hot issues like burden-sharing, transatlantic solidarity, new-old security threats etc. are to be discussed. I especially hope that President Trump will support a future summit declaration. As for the Ukraine’s expectations, it would be realistic and expedient to repeat some statements regarding an “open door”, supplemented by both political and practical means of support for Ukraine’s current struggle for independence and democracy. An enhanced opportunities partnership for dialogue and cooperation (EOP) for Ukraine seems to be discussed, but the prospects of the decision are not certain as for the moment.
3. Today how important for Ukraine mutual relations with Kasakhstan and others Central Asian countries?
Despite Ukraine’s strategic orientation towards the West, it is equally important to keep regular contacts and a certain degree of practical cooperation with her former “sisters”. They should not be perceived as the Russian permanent allies even if they are members of CSTO. Relations with former Soviet countries should be based on principles of common interests and common future not the Soviet past.