From left: Moldova’s Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Georgia’s President Mikhael Saakashvili, Azerbaijan President Ilkham Aliyev during the summit of GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) in Baku, Azerbaijan, Tuesday, June, 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool)
Interesting meeting of a new alliance of former Soviet states reported on in the IHT:
Leaders of four ex-Soviet nations on Tuesday discussed ways to counterbalance Russia’s wide influence in the Caspian and Black Sea basins at a summit of their regional grouping. The summit is the first for the organization called GUAM-Organization for Democracy and Economic Development since its four member countries — Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova — agreed last year to deepen ties and cooperation. The summit’s host, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliev, and other leaders spoke in support of extending the Odessa-Brody crude oil pipeline through Ukraine to bring Caspian Sea oil to a refinery in Plock, Poland, and on to the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk. “Our countries are offering their political support to this project,” Aliev said. The pipeline would provide another outlet for European-bound, Caspian Sea oil to bypass Russia. Ukraine built the 667-kilometer (413-mile) pipeline in 2001, but it has remained largely idle because of bickering about whether to accept oil from Russia or to pump oil from Caspian Sea countries northward to Poland and on to the rest of Europe.