Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by congratulating Ambassador Arkwright for his excellent manner in steering the work of the Conference of States Parties.
I also commend Director-General Üzümcü for his guidance and dedicated efforts to enable the Organization to effectively address the key challenges of the day; and prepare the Organization for a new role in the coming years.
Today, I take this opportunity to reiterate the importance that Turkey attaches to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Turkey’s sincere efforts for achieving global disarmament and non-proliferation are well known and appreciated by the international community.
We support all initiatives for enhancing international security and stability through arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.
To that end, we are party to all major international non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes.
Our geostrategic position renders us critical for regional and international security, including that of Europe.
Therefore, Turkey’s cooperation and support in this field is vital in a wide geography stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Aegean and the Balkans; and from the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caspian.
Turkey plays a crucial role for international security in the 21st century and, as a G-20 member, pursues an active foreign policy.
Her experience with democracy offers insights to neighboring countries and constitutes a source of inspiration for them.
Our presence at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul is an ample proof for our commitment to global disarmament and security.
An active participant of the NPT Review Conferences, Turkey is also a member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative.
Due to the complexity of our security environment, we also seek protection from Weapons of Mass Destruction, all forms of terrorism and ethnic separatism.
By the same token, Turkey does not wish to see any form of Weapons of Mass Destruction in its region and is categorically against the possession of those weapons.
Attempts at developing or acquiring such weapons may well trigger a regional race for its possession, which in turn would lead to further instability threatening international peace and security.
It is therefore our desire to see universalization and effective implementation of all multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, which stands closest to universality with its 188 States Parties, is certainly one of these.
Indeed, this Convention is unique in terms of its capacity whereby it bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, as well as monitors implementation by means of a solid verification regime.
As such, the Convention plays an important role in effective multilateralism and sets example for other regimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Alongside this great success, there are also challenges. For instance, there are yet eight states that remain outside the regime.
The ultimate objective of the Convention can be attained only when these states join the fold and full universalization is achieved.
In the meantime, there are substantive issues that need to be addressed by the Organization in the near future. A key challenge is to prevent the reemerging of chemical weapons and misuse of toxic chemicals.
Verified elimination of a substantial portion of declared chemical weapons and agents are remarkable achievements. Nevertheless, elimination of all existing chemical weapons is necessary to reach full universality.
The sufferings caused by the use of chemical weapons just across our borders in Iran and Iraq in the 1980’s are painful reminders of the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of this weapon. We should never forget the scenes of the Halabja massacre in 1988.
Therefore, all the steps directed at a “chemical weapons free world” should be sincere and beyond rhetoric.
The elimination of chemical weapons will be a litmus test for the rest of the other disarmament efforts.
Our accomplishments in this direction give us hope that we may one day attain a “weapons of mass destruction free world”.
I believe, this should be the common aspiration of all countries represented in this hall.
It is my further conviction that this Organization will be leading the path for an eventual WMD-free world.
Indeed, this cannot be achieved by eliminating chemical weapons alone.
While coming close to attaining the end-result in the chemical field, we must also concentrate our efforts in the nuclear and biological field.
Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the grave threats in our contemporary world. It is a pity that the momentum has been lost in the global disarmament efforts.
We cannot overcome this threat unless all member states, including nuclear ones, adopt a “just” and “principled” approach in their respective policies.
Establishing a credible global non-proliferation regime would not be achievable, while ignoring de facto existence of nuclear weapons of certain countries at the heart of most delicate regions.
In responding to those security challenges, we should keep in mind that global problems cannot be solved unilaterally, bilaterally or in small circles of like-minded nations.
Therefore, it is important today, more than ever, that we should adopt a holistic approach to the issues involving security dilemmas.
On this road, we should start by a regional approach, which promises more success.
Turkey has been active in promoting a “weapons of mass destruction free zone” in the Middle East.
In this context, I have called upon all member states to intensify their efforts in creating a “Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East”.
I believe the UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991 on Iraq constitutes a firm legal background for such a regime.
We also supported the calls at the New York NPT Review Conference of May 2010 for convening a conference on WMD Free Zone in the Middle East in 2012. I appreciate President Obama for endorsing this idea.
I believe this important step would be a “sine qua non” for all non-proliferation initiatives in the rest of the world.
On our part, we have assumed the leading role on this issue within the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which will convene in Istanbul at the Ministerial level on 27 April with a specific focus on Middle East.
As a country with integral and inseparable links to the Middle East, this comes as no coincidence.
Of course, we are well aware that this is not an easy task to accomplish, especially taking into account the deep political differences and mistrust between the players in the region.
The volatile nature of politics and entrenched positions established among the regional players make the first move towards a WMD-free zone more difficult.
Some of the major obstacles in the way of such process are the Arab-Israeli conflict and rising tension over Iran’s nuclear program.
Nevertheless, I sincerely believe that, we have to plan and pioneer a regional security structure in order to maintain the stability in the region. This would also be very instrumental in consolidating the acquisitions of the Arab Spring.
Thus, it is now crucial to consider the establishment of an OSCE-like "regional security architecture" in the Middle East which comprises a region-wide WMD Free Zone.
Before we reach that most desirable objective, we should first focus on the tasks we have at hand vis-à-vis the Chemical Weapons Convention obligations.
The most immediate one is the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles and their production facilities.
In this regard, we are concerned about the inability of three States Parties possessing stockpiles to fully meet their final extended deadline of 29 April 2012.
Completing the destruction of the remaining stockpiles in Iraq is also another task the international community will need to continue assisting.
The delicate state of affairs around the world requires this Organization to remain alert and take swift action in the case of any unexpected events concerning chemical weapons and agents.
Economic and technological development is another aspect of the Convention that need be upheld.
As member states, we should encourage international cooperation on economic and technological development and promote peaceful uses of chemistry.
However, we must not forget the fact that robust national implementation remain indispensable for the effectiveness of the CWC regime.
This has become particularly important, given the vibrant and dynamic nature of growing chemical industries worldwide.
Therefore, we must spare no effort at promoting effective national implementation with both the chemical industry and the scientific community.
On the other hand, I should like to draw your attention to the need for maintenance of chemical weapons expertise.
We believe that relevant expertise must be retained even after the completion of the destruction of existing stockpiles.
Such expertise might be needed due to the risk of acquisition of chemical weapons or agents by non-state actors or terrorist groups.
We all know that the use of nuclear weapons is an act that requires considerable infrastructure; and hence can only be mastered by regular armed forces.
Nonetheless, the use of chemical weapons requires relatively primitive infrastructure and less expertise, which makes it a prime target for non-state actors or terrorist groups.
These groups can exert pressure on legitimate governments by using or threatening to use such material, thus, creating panic and perhaps fatalities among the population.
In this regard, the speedy destruction of stockpiles under the supervision and technical expertise of the Organization is crucial.
This particularly applies to the countries experiencing radical political restructuring and temporary deficiency in central authority.
We have to be more vigilant nowadays since some of the chemical weapon possessing countries are in political turmoil due to public uprisings in the Middle East.
On the other hand, the possession of chemical and biological weapons might be very tempting for weak states.
When they see their rich and strong rivals or enemies are equipped with state of the art weapons systems; they may have a natural inclination to acquire and use relatively cheap but extremely devastating chemical and biological weapons.
For that reason, we have to take all disarmament issues as a serious matter to avoid vicious cycles of arms race and security dilemmas.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate our view that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should play an exemplary role in the field of disarmament.
I can assure you that for its part, Turkey will continue to lend its full support and cooperation to the effective implementation of the Convention.
By the help of this Organization, let us leave a better world to the next generations free from the weapons of mass killing and terror!
Let us invest in peace and prosperity, not in death and destruction!