Opening Statement by Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, President of the Conference on Disarmament

Ahmet Üzümcü 19.02.2008
Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, chers collègues,

Au moment où ma délégation assume la Présidence de la Conférence du Désarmement, permettez-moi de vous dire quelques mots d'introduction. C'est un grand honneur pour mon pays, ainsi que pour moi-même d'assumer la Présidence de cette auguste assemblée.

Je tiens tout d'abord à remercier mon prédécesseur le distingué Représentant Permanent de la Tunisie, l'Ambassadeur Samir Labidi, pour les efforts qu'il a déployés en vue de la mise en oeuvre des fondations de nos travaux pour cette année. En même temps, je souhaiterais souligner l'étroite collaboration établie entre les Présidents de la Conférence. Je leur en suis reconnaissant.

Je ne pourrais manquer d'exprimer ma gratitude aux Présidents de la Conférence de l'année dernière qui nous ont fourni une solide base de travail.

Je voudrais également remercier pour leur assistance et leur disponibilité, Monsieur Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Secrétaire Général de la Conférence, ainsi que son adjoint Monsieur Tim Caughley et tous ses collaborateurs.

Chers collègues,

L'année dernière a été célébré le huitième centenaire de la naissance de Mevlana Rumi, éminent penseur sufi, humaniste, et poète mondial. Les vers suivants lui appartiennent : "La vérité est un miroir tombé de la main de Dieu qui s'est ensuite brisé. Chacun en ramasse un fragment et affirme que toute la vérité s'y trouve".

Il semblerait qu'un miroir serait tombé en morceaux dans cette salle. Depuis plus d'une décennie nous oeuvrons presque tous de façon déterminée à sa réparation. Apparemment, plusieurs d'entre nous en détiennent un fragment et pensent y avoir découvert la vérité. Cependant, ce qui est vrai pour certains ne l'est pas toujours pour d'autres. Cela arrive souvent, en particulier dans l'environnement multilatéral où nous poursuivons nos travaux.

Le multilatéralisme connaît certaines difficultés. Néanmoins, il n'est nullement brisé et n'a rien perdu de son importance. Bien au contraire, il me semble qu'elle se soit accrue. C'est à nous qu'il revient de rassembler les morceaux de ce miroir, qui symbolise de nos jours le consensus.

Distinguished colleagues,

Turkey favors global, overall disarmament and supports all efforts in the field of sustaining international security through arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Turkey considers the CD to have a leading role in addressing the security challenges confronting our nations.

As the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence Mr. Des Browne reminded us in his address to the CD two weeks ago, "global challenges require global solutions". Needless to say, global problems cannot be solved unilaterally, bilaterally or in small circles of likeminded nations. Effective multilateralism is necessary and achievable. And for this, the legitimate security concerns of all states must be acknowledged.

No one questions the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the world's single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum. Considerable momentum has been created within this historic Council Chamber of the League of Nations. However, in spite of many attempts, we haven't been able to overcome the decade-long stalemate in which the Conference continues to languish. We all need to strive for a new impetus which will allow us to move towards a consensus on our future work.

Since the beginning of this year, a number of highly significant declarations have been made in the CD. UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon in his statement at the opening of the 2008 session reminded us that "This body has not lost its relevance, but is in danger of losing its way". The Secretary-General also pointed out that "To get back on the path to success, the Conference must rekindle the ambition and sense of common purpose that produced its past accomplishments, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty."

I would also like to emphasize the encouraging expressions of support brought to Geneva by the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Abdelwaheb Abdallah, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence Mr. Des Browne, the US National Nuclear Security Administrator Mr. Thomas D'Agostino and the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Sergey Lavrov. We also listened carefully to the message sent by the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Yang Jiechi. They all voiced a clear signal of support for the CD. We now need to deliver and meet their expectations.

Distinguished colleagues,

I am grateful to the agenda item co-ordinators. They have demonstrated able leadership and wise guidance. I am confident that the second round of informal discussions will be just as stimulating and forward looking.

I look forward to a productive co-operation with all of you. In close co-ordination with my P-6 colleagues, I will pursue intensive consultations and seek the possibility of a consensus building on the Presidential Proposal crafted by last year's Presidents.

I am fully aware of the magnitude and complexity of the tasks ahead of us in this regard. Bearing in mind the highest priority attached to our common efforts, I would earnestly appeal to all delegations to display the necessary spirit of compromise and flexibility. The cooperation and support of all will be crucial in attaining our shared objective to break the longstanding deadlock in the CD. Those delaying our efforts to cross the bridge need to realize that allowing us to make full use of the potential of the Conference would have a positive impact for all. This would enable the CD to achieve beneficial results for our common security, including their own.

The commencement of negotiations in the Conference would provide a much-needed opportunity to demonstrate collective leadership and achieve meaningful gains on disarmament. The CD is indeed a negotiating forum and a series of endless talks do not allow us to fulfil our mandate. There is an ever urgent need to take action.

Now, I would like to give you a general outline of our schedule of activities during Turkey's term.

An informal meeting devoted to agenda items 1 and 2 with a general focus on nuclear disarmament will be held this afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon an informal meeting devoted to agenda items 1 and 2 with a general focus on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosives will be held. On Thursday morning and afternoon informal meetings devoted respectively to agenda items 3 and 4 will be held.

Next week, we will have two plenary sessions on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Informal meetings devoted to agenda items 5, 6 and 7 will also be held.

During the first week of March, the high-level segment of the Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva. As we are getting closer to this meeting, I would like to renew the appeal for senior political figures to address the Conference. Their participation and involvement will further enrich our discussions and generate a greater interest in our work. The Presidency will do its utmost to organize special Plenary meetings for any dignitary who may wish to contribute to our work.

The final week of Turkey's term will be devoted to an evaluation of the progress achieved so far by the agenda item co-ordinators. As your President, I will listen carefully to all of you and in close co-ordination with my P-6 colleagues, I will endeavour to outline the elements of our future work.

In his opening statement the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon reminded us that "CD's successes are distant memories". I sincerely hope that the current stalemate will become "distant memory" quite soon.

I would like to end my introduction on a personal note. I take it as a promising coincidence that the ancient city of Gordium is located in Central Anatolia, Turkey. You may recall that the problem of untying the Gordian knot resisted all attempted solutions until Alexander the Great cut it through with a sword. I have no intention to take a sword in my hand. The sword is in fact in your hands. And we call it the political will.