The third focus could be on increasing joint military cooperation and production. An example of this is recent agreements by Turkey to jointly produce TB-2 Turkish drones with Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Poland. The expansion of Turkish drones in NATO and NATO-allied members from the Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas would create what Yusuf Erim has called a “Crescent Drone” barrier between Russia and NATO.
In the field of economic integration, the GUAM+ format could exploit their strategic location on East-West transport corridors by creating and expanding existing regional production networks and energy supplies independent of Russia. More countries, other than existing Turkey and Georgia who play important roles in the export pipelines and in distribution, could be encouraged to expand Azerbaijan’s supply of gas and oil to Europe. Overcoming the challenges emanating from the current dysfunctional regional value and supply chains will require a determined commitment from GUAM+ and the EU with the strategic backing of the United States.
Turkey’s Middle Corridor and Poland’s Three Seas Initiative, along with the extension of the EU’s TEN-T could open avenues that would enhance the economic integration of the region into the wider European supply and value chains: for example, by connecting GUAM+ to the Trans-European Rhine-Danube Corridor. This type of economic integration would position GUAM+ partners as crucial players in the newly emerging global connectivity wars.
NATO and the EU are unlikely to offer membership to GUAM members in the short to medium terms and they need to think outside the box to anchor these four countries inside the Euro-Atlantic community. A GUAM+ format with Turkey and possibly Poland would increase security on NATO’’s eastern flank and the EU’s Eastern Partnership, while serving as a deterrence to Russia and bringing geopolitical pluralism to Eurasia.
Rusif Huseynov is the director of the Topchubashov Center, a think tank in Baku, Azerbaijan, Adjunct Lecturer at ADA University and Rethink. CEE Fellow at German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War to be published by Routledge