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Statements in International Organisations


Australia Group plenary session - Statement on behalf of the European Union (Paris, 14 - 18 April 2008)

Statement by Robert Stražišar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, on behalf of the European Union

Mr Chairman, Distinguished delegates,

On behalf of the European Union, I have the honour to express our gratitude to the Australian Government for organising and convening this year's session, the 35th Plenary Meeting of the Australia Group. The European Union reiterates its sincere appreciation for the Australian Government's ongoing efforts as well as administrative and logistical support provided over the last twenty-three years. We also appreciate the excellent website of the Australia Group, now available in six languages, and AGIS network for the distribution of less sensitive AG documents.

We firmly believe the Australia Group continues to provide an important contribution to the fight against the proliferation of WMD by state actors and acquisition by terrorists and terrorist organisations of chemical and biological agents and their means of production and delivery. We should continue to work in that spirit, bearing also in mind the importance of an overarching global, multilateral and binding approach to non-proliferation and multilateral disarmament.

Mr Chairman,

The European Union considers both the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) to be landmarks in the disarmament process. Moreover, the CWC is one of the key international instruments for non-proliferation of chemical weapons, and the BTWC remains relevant in the face of existing and emerging threats posed by biological weapons. The Union believes that achieving universality of CWC and BTWC is of utmost importance for their successful implementation world-wide.

The European Union is convinced that export control regimes are fully consistent with and supportive of these conventions. They are complementary to the network of international obligations established in order to eliminate certain categories of weapons of mass destruction and to prevent their proliferation. The Australia Group has matured over the years, allowing its members to better fulfil their national responsibilities towards chemical and biological non-proliferation based on credible and realistically applicable control criteria without unduly hampering trade with the transfer of or access to material, equipment or technology for legitimate purposes.

In this context, the European Union wishes to stress the conformity of the EU Regulation on the control of exports of dual-use items and technology with this policy. The Regulation is binding on all twenty-seven Member States. Prior to accession candidate countries are required to align with it to demonstrate that their national legislation contains rules similar to those contained in the regulation. The Regulation applies directly in the new Member States from the date of their accession.

Mr Chairman,

Allow me to take this opportunity to underline that the European Union was particularly pleased to see the EU candidate Croatia welcomed into the Australia Group last year. Thus, two potential EU members, Croatia and Turkey, already share in AG decision-making, which is important in the light of the fact that EU export control legislation is partly based on decisions made within the AG (such as control lists). In addition and perhaps even more importantly, the two candidate countries share in the exchange of confidential information within the Group, which enables them to make decisions on licence requests by taking into account such confidential information.

The Union remains convinced of the value of Australia Group's outreach activities. For its part, the European Union provides political support and financial assistance to foster worldwide adherence to the CWC and the BTWC, providing assistance to States Parties in drawing up and implementing legislation through which they implement the obligations under the conventions.

Further expansion of the Australia Group should be examined in accordance with the Group's membership criteria, bearing in mind the necessary balance between associating new key players and maintaining the cohesion and efficiency of the group. The European Union has taken note of Russia's interest in participation and recognises the fact that the Russian Federation is an important exporter in the biological/chemical field. In the same spirit, the EU welcomes the recent AG outreach visit in Moscow conducted by the Chair.

Admission of states from other regions of the world that share the objectives of the Australia Group and can fully comply with its operational requirements could add to our credibility and effectiveness.

The European Union is looking forward to a productive and fruitful Australia Group Plenary session under your able guidance.

Thank you Mr Chairman.


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Date: 28.04.2008