Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations
Mr. Director-General of the OPCW
The CWC and the OPCW are cornerstones of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaty system. The CWC is unique, since it bans completely and without exception an entire category of weapons of mass destruction and requires the destruction of all chemical weapons under international verification.
The EU Strategy Against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, adopted in 2003, stresses the strong support of the EU for the CWC and, at the same time, it underlines the efforts to be taken concerning international security, disarmament and non-proliferation.
One of the most important aspects that highlights the EUs ongoing commitment towards the OPCW, within the framework of this Strategy, is the development of the EU Joint Actions in support of OPCW activities. The first Joint Action was adopted in November 2004 covering the year 2005, followed by a second one for 2006 and a third approved this year and covering an 18 months period. Overall, the three Joint Actions provided support for the OPCW activities in the amount of more than 5 million.
The projects covered under the EU Joint Actions aim, inter alia, at promoting the universality of the CWC, assisting States Parties in their national implementation process, strengthening the verification regime, enhancing international cooperation in the field of chemical activities and reinforcing the Technical Secretariats capabilities to provide international assistance and protection against chemical weapons.
The EU has also offered financial support and technical expertise for the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia, namely to the destruction facilities in Gorny, Kambarka and Shchuchye.
Besides its annual contributions, the EU Member States also offer bilateral voluntary contributions, either to voluntary funds or to activities or programmes of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW.
In order to strengthen even further the CWC, the EU will contribute in a substantive and constructive way to a full review of the operation of the CWC during the Second Review Conference of April 2008. To that purpose, the EU has adopted a Common Position for the Review Conference, in which it has identified areas in which the EU believes further progress should be accomplished, such as the promotion of compliance with the CWC, including the timely destruction of all chemical weapons, and by enhancing its verification and striving for universality.
The EU congratulates once again the OPCW and its Technical Secretariat for the very positive and successful results achieved during this past decade in the implementation of the Convention: 182 countries have ratified or acceded and real progress has been made in establishing National Authorities and in enacting national legislation.
The OPCW has also set up an effective industry verification regime and has developed, for the benefit of all States Parties, assistance and protection projects as well as international cooperation programmes. In addition, the OPCW has monitored progress made by possessor States in redoubling their efforts to overcome certain problems and to meet their obligations in achieving the complete and irreversible destruction of their chemical weapons by 29 April 2012. The EU stresses also the importance of the implementation of the provision of the Convention on consultations, cooperation and fact-finding, in particular the challenge inspection mechanism, which remains an indispensable and readily available instrument as well as a viable and useable tool of the OPCW´s verification regime.
During this commemorative year, a number of EU Member States have been and will continue to be active in organizing projects and events related to the CWC. We believe events such as this meeting organized by the Republic of Poland and the Kingdom of The Netherlands are important instruments through which all stakeholders involved in the chemical weapons field can renew their commitment to the multilateral treaty system and further sensitize to the importance of the object and purpose of the Convention.
The EU commends the ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and the OPCW in the field of non-proliferation and international cooperation for peaceful purposes and recalls the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2006, through which the OPCW is encouraged, within its mandate, to continue its efforts to prevent terrorists from acceding to chemical materials and to respond effectively in case of an attack using such materials. In line with the UNSC 1540 resolution, the EU would also like to point out the importance for the OPCW to keep renewing its commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.