Halit Çevik 10.06.2013
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege for me to be, once again, one of the co-hosts of today’s seminar, and to address this distinguished audience, together with Ambassador Nishida and Mr. Herczyński (Herçinski). I am also grateful for the relentless efforts of the Stimson Center in making this seminar possible, once again.

Distinguished Guests,

Today’s discussions are a natural continuation of our past discussions where we addressed the challenges in preventing the proliferation of WMD-related material, dual-use items and conventional arms. However, today’s topic has a clear focus on illicit networks, which challenges all countries, regardless of their size and capabilities.

The fight against illicit networks is like a cat and mouse chase. As we develop stronger measures and controls, illicit networks seek ways to circumvent them. We develop additional measures to plug existing gaps, they seek newer ways to circumvent them. It is a constant race, where we have to be creative, alert, focused and dedicated to outdo and outsmart them. To use an analogy, it is like riding a bicycle uphill: If we stop pedaling, we fall.

Certain countries face more severe challenges than others when it comes to combatting illicit networks, due to their industrial, financial and logistical capabilities, as well as their geographic positioning. Turkey is one of these countries. Turkey is constantly challenged by such networks, and therefore attaches much importance to combatting them. We have learned some important lessons, few of which I will share with you in order to enrich the debate.

The fight against illicit networks can not be undertaken by one country alone. As these networks exploit the technological advances and our globalized system, it becomes clearer that a robust collaboration, cooperation and assistance between states are essential. To fight these networks, we have to strengthen our own inter-state network. With this understanding, Turkey has become member to all available control regimes and initiatives such as the Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Proliferation and Security Initiative and Wassenaar Arrangement.

We have to remember that we are as strong as our weakest link and therefore aim to strengthen the system, as well as its elements. We should provide necessary assistance to those that need them.

Intelligence sharing is of utmost importance. Sometimes states may be unaware that one of the links of such networks operates on their soil, while another state may be aware of this due to its connection with an ongoing investigation. This information should be shared as quickly and accurately as possible. I would like to hereby underline the importance of timely and accurate intelligence-sharing.

These networks should be fought whenever and wherever they are encountered. We shouldn’t wait for the very last minute, until the material is close to its destination. This creates an unfair extra burden for certain countries.

Collaboration of states is not enough on its own. The involvement of civil society and the private sector – from industry to logistics to banking – is needed, in order to establish a robust regime. This is even more relevant when it comes to combatting below the threshold procurement, which is probably one of the most difficult challenges, as it also threatens legitimate trade. We have to keep a watchful eye on front companies and the exploitation of the legitimate shipping industry. As we have discussed in previous sessions, the trafficking of illicit material mostly occurs through legitimate trade channels.

Effective end-user verifications are important. This narrows the room for manoeuver in circumvention attempts.

Also, when we discuss and address illicit networks, we shouldn't think only in terms of those that target, exploit or are suspected to be employed by certain countries of concern. We should also pay much attention to their association with non-state actors, such as organized crime and terrorist groups. We are all aware of the exploitation of such networks by these groups.

In this context, the ATT is of much relevance. It seeks to establish a robust regime where states are given means and standards to cooperate and establish measures to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms, and their diversion into illicit markets. Therefore the ATT can play a key role, once it enters into force, if is universal and if it is implemented effectively. As a first step, it is important that all states sign and ratify it in the shortest delay. Turkey intends to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.

Without further due, I would like to end my words here. Our past discussions have been very fruitful and thought-provoking. We don’t expect any less of today’s discussions.

Thank you for your attention.