Statement by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, High Level Meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Ertuğrul Apakan 01.10.2012
Mr. Secretary-General,
Mr. Director-General of the OPCW,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü for organizing this important event.

At the outset, I wish to commend Director-General Üzümcü for his able leadership and the dedicated work of his team, that together enable the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to effectively address today’s key challenges and prepare it for a new role in the coming years.

Excellencies,

Concrete achievements of the OPCW speak for themselves. I will not dwell on them. However, I wish underline one of its noteworthy achievements: The complete elimination by three States parties of their declared chemical weapons stockpile under the Convention.

The role the Organization plays in assisting the destruction of the remaining warfare chemicals in Libya is a fine example of the OPCW’s effectiveness and prominence in this field. The recent crisis in Libya has also highlighted the Organization’s role in eliminating chemical weapons.

The destruction activities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China, as well as activities of the Technical Secretariat related to destruction facilities in China are also welcome news.

We would like to hereby invite all parties to meet their commitments to fully comply with their obligation to destroy all chemical weapons stockpiles and their production facilities.

The destruction of the remaining stockpiles in Iraq will require the continued assistance of the international community.

Excellencies,

The existence of chemical weapons and warfare agents in its possession in the Middle East, is a major concern for the countries in the region and the international community as a whole.

Past use of such weapons in two other countries neighbouring Turkey, is a clear reminder of the dangers weapons of mass destruction may pose --the type of danger the Chemical Weapons Convention is designed to and the OPCW is working hard to prevent.

Indeed, the suffering caused by the use of such weapons in Iraq and Iran --at the very threshold of the 21st century-- is a vivid and painful reminder of the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of this weapon.

Therefore, the significance of all steps directed at a “chemical weapons free world” is beyond plain words. It is my conviction that, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is supported by an excellent mechanism – the OPCW, will be leading the path for an eventual WMD-free world. But, in order to achieve a WMD-free world, we must concentrate our efforts in the nuclear and biological field as well; starting, if necessary, with a regional approach and paving the way for eventual universality. In this context, Turkey has been actively promoting the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Excellencies,

Ongoing developments and state of affairs around the world requires the international community and the OPCW to remain alert and take swift action in the case of any unexpected eventualities concerning stockpiles or use of chemical agents. Current events in Syria constitute a valid example in this context.

In the case of such a need, the Convention stipulates the provision of assistance and protection against chemical weapons. One cannot overemphasize the fact that it is crucial to give an effective and timely response in case of use, or threat of use, of chemical weapons.

In this connection, expertise on chemical weapons as well as preparedness to respond to the use, or threat of use, of chemical weapons is a skill that needs to be maintained. Having said this, I note with satisfaction that OPCW-led regional and international assistance-and-protection events have been continuing, to some of which Turkey also participated.

As the risk of acquisition of chemical warfare agents by non-state actors, terrorists or even states will continue to exist, the Organization must retain relevant expertise even after the accomplishment of the destruction of existing stockpiles. In the meantime, assistance and protection should continue to be a main priority for the OPCW.

Excellencies,

Before I conclude my statement, I would like to reiterate the importance Turkey attaches to the Chemical Weapons Convention and its universalization. Turkey, being party to all international disarmament mechanisms, non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes, supports all initiatives aimed at enhancing international security and stability.

I would like to take this opportunity to assure you of our full cooperation, in the universalization and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

I thank you.