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Baku Summit Leaders Pledge to Cooperate More

Participants of the GUAM summit in Baku (ITAR-TASS) BAKU, June 18, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders from Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan have signed a final joint declaration at the summit of the GUAM Organization For Democracy And Economic Development in Baku. The declaration states that all sides will work to strengthen cooperation on security and stability in the region.

The signatories also agreed to consolidate democratic values, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and achieve social and economic development.

Pipelines and peacekeepers were also high on the agenda at the two-day summit attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, and Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev.

Aliyev said "the organization is becoming dynamic, very active, and it can resolve issues of great importance."

The four member states agreed ahead of the summit to explore the possibility of creating a peacekeeping force that could replace the Russian contingents currently deployed in Transdniester, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said in the Azerbaijani capital on June 18 that the force could also take part in police operations.

"This is an important issue and we have tasked the respective authorities in our countries to work toward that goal, develop a common strategy and, most importantly, achieve this capability as soon as possible," Bezhuashvili said.

Pipeline Plans

Much of the focus today was on efforts to extend an existing oil pipeline between the Ukrainian cities of Odesa and Brody.

The proposed extension would run through the Polish city of Plock and on to the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk.

The extended pipeline would allow Azerbaijan to ship its oil to Western Europe, bypassing Russia. Ilgar Rasul, a correspondent with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service in Baku, said Saakashvili called for stronger ties between GUAM and the European Union.

The presidents of three EU countries -- Poland's Lech Kaczynski, Lithuania's Valdas Adamkus, and Romania's Traian Basescu -- attended the summit as observers.

In a clear reference to Russia, Kaczynski said GUAM's projects are of particular importance "under conditions of energy blackmail."