Statement by H.E. Rafet Akgünay Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey at the 1097th Plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament

Rafet Akgünay 04.03.2008
Mr. Secretary General of the Conference on Disarmament,
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address the Conference on Disarmament at a time when Turkey is the rotating President of this august body.

We live in a world where security has become indivisible. We all benefit from a secure environment and suffer when it is absent. On the other hand, we cannot argue that more arms would bring more security; and there lies the virtue of disarmament.

We therefore need to build consensus on measures to meet challenges or common threats. Our ability to respond efficiently to the most pressing threats to international peace and security depends heavily on how we make best use of multilateral fora, including the Conference on Disarmament. As the world's single negotiating forum for multilateral disarmament, the Conference assumes a central role in our common efforts to ensure a safer world for future generations.

Past achievements are a testimony to the expertise, knowledge and wisdom which have always been present in this historic Chamber of the League of Nations. It's now time to reactivate this great potential. There are many reasons to be optimistic. Considerable momentum has been created and there is an ever growing desire not to loose it. There is an urgent need to reach agreement on a programme of work. Today, I am renewing once more Ankara's unequivocal commitment and determination to break the deadlock.

Mr. President,

Now, I would like to elaborate on different topics in your agenda, from our national perspective.

Located in a region of particular concern with respect to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Turkey monitors with vigilance the developments in this field and takes part in collective efforts aimed at devising measures to reverse this alarming trend.

Turkey's security policy excludes the production and use of all kinds of WMD. We advocate global, overall disarmament and support all efforts in the field of sustaining international security through multilateral arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Turkey is a party to all international non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes and wishes to see the universalisation, effective implementation and further strengthening of them.

On nuclear issues, Turkey regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the core of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. We are fully committed to the implementation of the NPT in all its three mutually reinforcing pillars, non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The integrity and credibility of the NPT regime require renewed commitment and equal treatment of these three pillars. We shall continue to promote issues of key importance for the sustainability of the NPT in the long run. These include, universalisation of the Treaty, strengthening of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguards system, reinforcement of export controls and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.

Turkey is therefore dedicated to full compliance with the NPT, Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and with Additional Protocols. We consider those Agreements and Additional Protocols as the current IAEA verification standard. We will continue to work constructively towards a substantive outcome for the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Indispensable within the NPT regime, we welcome the establishment of nuclear weapons free zones, freely arrived at. We support the establishment of an effectively verifiable zone, free of WMDs and their means of delivery in the Middle East, and encourage all efforts for developing a common regional understanding on this project, with the participation of all parties concerned.

We believe that the Conference on Disarmament has a major role on nuclear issues. Turkey is encouraged by the substantive discussions which are currently taking place and wishes to further build on this momentum. We shall spare no effort to allow the Conference on Disarmament to resume its negotiating role in 2008 on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as parallel advances on negative security assurances, nuclear disarmament and prevention of arms race in outer space. This body was able to conclude the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, one of the indispensable components of the NPT regime, and can finalize further instruments in this respect.

On the other categories of WMD, we treat the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) as the two other key components of the global system against proliferation of WMD. We must maintain our efforts to promote their universalisation and effective implementation.

On the equally worrying issue of delivery vehicles of WMD, Turkey is concerned with the progressive increase in the range and accuracy of ballistic missiles. In this context, we value very much the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) against ballistic missile proliferation, which constitutes a practical step towards an internationally accepted legal framework in this field. We wish to see the universalisation of HCOC.

Heedles to say, the use of outer space and space based research should exclusively be for peaceful purposes. Accordingly, we encourage views and proposals on strengthening the existing international legal framework directed at preventing arms race in outer space.

Proliferation of WMD and their delivery means becomes all the more worrying in the context of terrorism. While we condemn terrorism in all its forms, which is a crime against humanity and which cannot be justified under any pretext, we need to remain vigilant about the risk of acquisition by terrorists of WMD and delivery vehicles. Therefore, we are committed to combat all forms of terrorism, including possible heinous acts involving nuclear and radioactive material.

On conventional weapons, we bear the view that their proliferation is also a global concern. The excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons (SALW) pose a significant threat to peace and security, as well as to the social and economic development of many countries. There is also a close relationship between the illicit trade of those arms and terrorism. Turkey will continue to actively contribute to all efforts within the UN and other fora to foster international cooperation and the establishment of effective norms and rules, with a view to combating and eradicating illicit trade in SALW, in all its aspects. Turkey remains committed to the effective implementation and further strengthening of the UN Programme of Action on SALWs.

Cognizant of the damage small arms inflict on peace and security worldwide, Turkey will continue to support the conclusion of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which aims to cease unregulated and uncontrolled trade of arms worldwide and establish common standards for the global trade in conventional arms.

The proliferation and unauthorized use of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) is another serious concern. Turkey maintains the view that the international community should act decisively to improve stockpile security and strengthen export controls in countries that import and manufacture MANPADS. With this understanding, Turkey has co-sponsored in the First Committee the resolution on MANPADS.

On indiscriminate and excessively injurious weapons, I should like to underline briefly our commitment to ending the humanitarian suffering caused by these weapons. With this aim in mind, Turkey joined both the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on "Certain Conventional Weapons". We have also been actively contributing to international efforts in order to limit the humanitarian sufferings caused by the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions, and therefore we participate in the work undertaken both within the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention, as well as within the "Oslo Process". Such steps are fully in line with Turkey's commitment to arms control and disarmament in general; and prohibition or restriction of weapons which may cause unnecessary suffering, in particular.

My statement would not be complete without mentioning our support for the UN Register System for Conventional Weapons. This tool in hand is a very useful mechanism, complementing our work in this field.

Mr. President,

In concluding, I would like to remind you of your President's final remarks in his inaugural speech two weeks ago. Ambassador Üzümcü suggested the political will as the sword to untie the Gordian knot, which you are confronted with. Making full use of the capacity of the Conference will not only yield beneficial results for arms control and disarmament, but will also open new vistas for multilateralism.

Thank you Mr. President.