On October 10-11, 1997, during the summit of the heads of state of the European Union in Strasbourg, the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldavia signed a joint communique on creating the GUAM alliance. The organisation was named according to the first letters of the names of states it incorporates.
In April 1999, at the meeting of the GUAM heads of state in Washington during the celebration of the NATO 50th anniversary Uzbekistan joined the organisation, and it received the name of GUUAM. In June 2002 Uzbekistan decided to withdraw from it. Later it declared that it remains but reserves the right not to participate in separate functions.
Till the year 2002, president of Azerbaijan Geidar Aliyev was the GUUAM chairman. In July 2002 president of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze occupied this post.
The prerequisites for the formation of GUUAM were mainly of the economic nature: the striving of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldavia to reduce its dependence on the Russian energy products as well the desire of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan to export its energy resources bypassing Russia.
Later, the military-political element was added to the organisation's activity. It became more noticeable when Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan withdrew from the CIS Collective Security Treaty in 1999.
The GUUAM countries began their rapprochement with the West, and the USA and its NATO allies are actively helping them and strengthen, in this way, their influence on the post-Soviet space. There are different forms of cooperation -- from participation in the NATO Partnership For Peace Programme to big investments in various projects. The main goal of NATO countries is to establish full control, above all, over the energy resources of the Caspian region and the routes of their transportation.
Some experts do not rule out that in the future GUUAM can become a more serious structure with a single military-industrial complex. A special role here is given to Ukraine which has a powerful military-industrial potential. Other analysts believe that there is no need to exaggerate the role of the GUUAM countries' military cooperation because for the full strengthening of the defence industry and economic cooperation between these countries a lot of time will be needed.
In September 2000 at their meeting in the UN headquarters in New York GUUAM member countries signed a memorandum in which they confirmed their allegiance to the basic norms of the international law - the equality of states, the non-use of force, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs and inviolability of the borders.
In June 2001 GUUAM received the status of the international regional organisation, which fact was written down in the Yalta Charter signed by the GUUAM heads of state.
The Charter stresses that cooperation of the member countries is being built on the principles of "international law, respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity" of the sides, non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.
The main goals of GUUAM are "to contribute to the social-economic development, to strengthen and develop trade and economic ties, scientific, cultural and humanitarian relations." A special place is given to the development of transport communications, strengthening regional security, collaboration in the struggle against international terrorism, organised crime and drug business.
The annual meeting of the heads of member states is the highest GUUAM body, the foreign ministers' session, which is being conducted twice a year, is the executive body, and the committee of national coordinators (KNK), which consists of representatives of each side, is the working body.
The decisions within the framework of GUUAM are being taken by consensus, and all the documents are being drawn up in Russian and English.
The member countries chair the GUUAM in the alphabet order during a year.
In July 2002 at a regular summit of the heads of GUUAM states the presidents of Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldavia, and Georgia signed an agreement on the creation of a free trade zone within the framework of this organisation.