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Ex-Soviet GUAM Group Drops Russian, Switches To English

  • RFE/RL

A grouping of former Soviet republics whose ties with Moscow are strained have switched from the Russian language to English at a meeting.

The GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development comprises Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on December 5 that at a session in Basel, Switzerland, he proposed that participants speak English instead of Russian, which was the main language used in official gatherings in the Soviet Union.

He said that the other representatives agreed.

GUAM was created in 2001 by the four current members and Uzbekistan, which later withdrew.

It is sometimes seen in Russia as a tool to counter Moscow's influence.

Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and its support for pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces has increased concerns about Moscow's intentions in the region.

Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova have signed agreements to tighten ties with the European Union.