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Statements in International Organisations


Fifty-Third Session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (The Hague)

Statement of the European Union delivered by Dr Tea Petrin Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia

Madam Chair, Mr Director – General, Distinguished delegates,

I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia[*] and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.

At the outset, Ambassador Tomová, allow me to congratulate you on your election and welcome you to the Chair. It is a particular privilege to see a representative of one of the EU Member States elected to this high office. I wish you every success in your stewardship of the Council. You can rest assured that you have the full cooperation of the European Union delegations and our commitment to your efforts to guide the sessions of the Executive Council in the coming twelve months to a successful conclusion.

I wish also to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Arguelles, the Permanent Representative of the Philippines, for his dedication and the exemplary way in which he has promoted consensus building leading to important Council decisions during his tenure as Chairman.

The European Union would like to extend a warm welcome to Guinea Bissau, which has become the 184th State Party to this Convention. We recall that only 11 non State Parties remain. The European Union has always strongly supported the universal adherence to the Convention and believes that the accession of a State non-Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention is a clear demonstration of its commitment to disarmament and international cooperation. The European Union will continue promoting accession to the Convention by all States not Party, and we particularly hope that Lebanon and Iraq will be able to deposit their ratification instruments shortly.

Madam Chair,

The European Union welcomes the outcome of the Second Review Conference and the important agreement on issues that are relevant for this organisation. This demonstrates the support of States Parties to the OPCW and should allow it to work in favourable conditions during the next five years, whilst preserving the spirit of consensus. The European Union fully supports the Report of the Second Review Conference, which recognizes that the Convention sets new standards for global disarmament and non-proliferation through verification in a non-discriminatory and multilateral manner. The European Union reaffirms that destruction of all chemical weapons remains one of the core objectives of the Convention. It also reaffirms that comprehensive national legislation is essential to the effective implementation of the Convention and the fulfilment of all its goals and objectives.

In the next five year period it is essential to continue maintaining the high standards of the CWC verification regime and to enhance it further with a view to achieving the non-proliferation and confidence-building aims of the Convention, in line with the Report of the Second Review Conference. In the view of the European Union, the verification regime has to particularly take into account the new scientific, technological and industrial developments in the field of chemistry, including the development of OCAD. Thus, we emphasise the role of verification, including the challenge inspection mechanism and the maintenance of a high state of readiness by the Secretariat to use it, as a means of deterring non-compliance with the Convention and increasing transparency, confidence and international security.

Madam Chair,

Destruction of all chemical weapons remains a key objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the European Union welcomes the continued progress achieved by all the possessor states in destruction of their chemical weapons, particularly India and a State Party, which are close to the end. The European Union would like to stress the importance that possessor States do their utmost to meet the agreed timelines. The European Union also wishes that the agreements relating to destruction facilities be examined by the Council at a faster pace so that we do not have to defer systematically these agreements from one Council to the next. The European Union calls upon all the possessor states to make every effort to meet their commitments under the Chemical Weapons convention both in terms of destruction and conversion.

The European Union notes that slippage has occurred in the conversion of Chemical Weapons Production Facilities. The EU calls upon the states parties concerned to complete the conversion as a matter of priority. The EU also notes that the issue of the destruction of chemical weapons in a hazardous condition still remains unresolved. While welcoming the existence of an interim verification arrangement the EU still calls for an early resolution of this issue.

We would like to welcome the announcement of Russia of the visit to Shchuchye Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility by representatives of the Executive Council, foreseen in the autumn. The visit will enable the Council to witness the efforts and progress made by Russian Federation towards achieving the destruction of its Chemical Weapons and meet with their national representatives. The European Union once again stresses the relevance of these visits to the two main possessor states as measure of transparency and confidence building. The European Union stresses that such visits should continue in the coming years as we will get closer to the final destruction deadline of 2012.

The European Union also calls for timely resumption of consultations on the OCPF site selection methodology. As the most relevant facilities in terms of scientific and technological changes are found in this category of industrial sites, the EU welcomes the initiative of the Director General in preparing papers on issues like improved declarations and optimisation of inspections. The European Union looks forward to the commencement of informal consultations, while encouraging the Technical Secretariat to use the autonomy which it enjoys for performing its tasks within the parameters set by Convention and budget.

Madam Chair,

The European Union welcomes the 2007 Verification Implementation Report and commends the verification work, which is one of the most important elements for the continuous effectiveness of the Convention. The European Union recognises that the Verification Implementation Report is the sole responsibility of the Technical Secretariat with due consideration of the recommendations made by the Review Conferences. Whilst it is important that States Parties are able to comment on factual omissions or inaccuracies and provide feedback for the future, the European Union notes that the Council is not called upon to negotiate the content of this report and we encourage States Parties to note the report as soon as possible.  

The European Union welcomes the efforts of the Technical Secretariat to maximize the efficiency of industry inspections and we look forward to cooperating on procedures to ensure this. Timely submission of declarations must remain a priority and the European Union hopes that the Executive Council can reach consensus on a decision on guidelines regarding declaration of import and export data for Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals.

The EU also stands ready to participate in early informal consultations on Low concentrations. The forthcoming Industry cluster in July offers a good opportunity to continue deliberations on sampling and analysis during routine Schedule 2 inspections, taking into account the recommendations of the Second Review Conference.

The EU welcomes the fact that the Second Review Conference provided valuable support to our common efforts to prevent the use of chemicals by non-state actors, such as terrorists. It underlined the importance of implementation of Article X, cited the relevant UN resolutions and invited States Parties to cooperate both bilaterally and regionally to that effect. It also expressed concern that chemical facilities may become subject to attacks or other incidents that could lead to the release or theft of toxic chemicals and encouraged States Parties to exchange experience in this regard. It also asked for close cooperation with international organisations active in this field. The European Union is of the view that the activities of the OPCW in this field contribute to enhancing the aims of the UNSC resolution 1540.

Madam Chair,

The Second Review Conference has given the Council, the Technical Secretariat and the Director General, and States parties respectively, a challenging set of assignments. For an effective follow up to the Review Conference, we should integrate these into a Common work programme. First and foremost, this should help the Executive Council to interact with the Technical Secretariat and with all delegations in a timely and productive manner. The EU is ready to contribute its ideas for such a coordinated programme, to be drawn up by the Chairperson of the Council with assistance from the Director General.

EU welcomes and encourages the facilitators that are to continue or to start upon informal consultations to help the Council. We are content that good candidates are confirmed and stand ready. Also, we encourage them to explore new and innovative forms of preparing the ground, if needed. Open-ended working mechanisms such as workshops and expert meetings can foster a good understanding of the solutions that may be proposed. Capitals and stakeholders can thus be in a better position to engage and share experiences. This is an illustration of the platform function that the OPCW aspires to provide. In this respect the EU supports the expansion of the National Authorities Day concept to include events that bring together industry and research and NGO views for the benefit of the delegations. We hope that work on this could begin before the next Session of the Conference of States Parties later this year. Thus, this 53rd Session of the Executive Council can be the starting point of an ambitious but necessary work programme, with full use of the now recognised role of stakeholders on the broadest possible regional basis.

Madam Chair,

As one of the largest contributors to the OPCW, the EU attaches great importance to sound and cost-effective budgeting, a zero-nominal growth budget to the extent possible and a results-based budgeting format focused on the priority objectives that makes reporting on and assessing of impact achievable.

The European Union has conducted three Joint Actions in the amount exceeding 5 million euros. The European Union is ready to work constructively with the Technical Secretariat and the facilitators to make further progress in the areas of national implementation and international cooperation. At present the implementation of the ongoing voluntary support by Joint Action is being examined jointly by the European Union and the Technical Secretariat. On the basis of this evaluation the European Union expects that a modified form of the Joint Action can be launched in the next year, continuing our support for the OPCW in the framework of the European Union’s objectives in its Strategy on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

[*] Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process


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Date: 30.06.2008