December 18, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the 1st Committee on Disarmament

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to congratulate you and the other members of the bureau on your well-deserved election. I have no doubt that with your long experience and wise guidance the goals of our committee will be fully achieved. I wish to assure you of the Cyprus delegation’s full support to your important task.

The Republic of Cyprus has aligned itself with the statement delivered by the French Presidency on behalf of the European Union and associated countries and I will, thus, limit my comments on some issues that are of particular concern to my country.

Mr. Chairman,

Last spring, the States-Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons adopted a consensus Final Document. Under the leadership of Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria, parties bridged their differences and despite the uncertain international context in which the Conference was taking place, the international community demonstrated a remarkable commitment and determination to strengthen the Non-Proliferation regime and work towards the full realization of the goals of the Treaty.

We warmly welcome the unequivocal undertaking given by the Nuclear Weapons states to the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals and we fully share the view expressed by many speakers before us that the international community has to exert every effort to build upon the successful outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

Mr. Chairman,

We would like to congratulate the Russian Federation for the recent ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and START II. As regards the bilateral arms reduction process, we support the prompt entry into force and timely implementation of START II and the early commencement of negotiations on START III with a view to achieving further reductions in strategic nuclear weapons.

Cyprus fully supports the consolidation of the existing nuclear-weapon-free zones as an important component in our goal toward a nuclear-free world. In this respect, we attach great importance to their expansion and in particular the establishment of such zones in areas of tension including one in our region.

Mr. Chairman,

Two years ago, addressing this same Committee I raised the issue of the decision of the Turkish government to build a nuclear power plant in a highly seismic area in southeastern Turkey. I referred to the obvious environmental consequences this decision was posing for all peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and the potential risk to international peace and security. We note with satisfaction that the Turkish government has provisionally suspended this project and we hope that it will be finally canceled.

Mr. Chairman,

During this last year, Cyprus has joined both the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Australia Group. I would like to take this opportunity to express from this podium, our deep appreciation to the member-states of both groups, for their support to our respective candidatures, and to reiterate my Government’s firm commitment to the cause of the prevention of the illicit transfer and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related dual-use goods and technologies.

I would also like to refer briefly to the Conference on Disarmament and to join previous speakers in expressing our concern for its continuing inability to undertake substantive work including the immediate commencement of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut – Off Treaty.

With regard to the Conference’s membership, Mr. Chairman, the Republic of Cyprus reiterates its wish to participate fully in the work of the sole multilateral forum in the field of disarmament. We firmly believe that further enlargement of the Conference would not hinder in any way its effectiveness. On the contrary, the Conference’s reform and its expansion to all members wishing to participate in its work, might give a new impetus to the forum.

Mr. Chairman,

The illicit trafficking of small arms is an issue of grave concern. We are fully supportive of all national, regional and international efforts in this direction and consider more effective action to eliminate this phenomenon, an imperative need in an increasingly interdependent world. The cost to human lives, the economies and the social fabric of many societies of our inaction is simply unacceptable. We are encouraged by the international attention given to the problem culminating in the convening of the International Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects to be held in 2001.

Mr. Chairman,

We recognize that much more needs to be done in the field of conventional weapons. However, we are much encouraged by the overwhelming response of the international community to the ban of Anti-Personnel Mines. I wish to reiterate in this respect, that despite the continuing foreign occupation of almost 40% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, we decided to sign the relevant Convention, as an expression of our determination to join the international community in its efforts to eliminate this totally inhumane method of warfare. Against a background of a constant threat posed by the 36,000 occupation troops stationed on the island, Mr. Chairman, we consider our decision as a further demonstration of our strong commitment to disarmament and respect for multilateral norms as the one set by the Ottawa Convention.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

We are currently engaged in proximity talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary General in order to reach a just, workable and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions. A matter of great concern both for the Government and the people of Cyprus is the issue of security.

In this context, I would like to recall once again the proposal made by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Glafcos Clerides, for the demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus which we consider as a genuine offer for peace on the island and in the region at large.

President Clerides’ proposal calls for a specific programme aiming at the dismantling of all local military forces, the withdrawal of all foreign forces and settlers from the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and its demilitarization as stipulated in the relevant United Nations resolutions. This proposal also envisages the stationing in Cyprus of an international force with an appropriate mandate from the Security Council.

Our President has stated that these proposals and suggestions on our part are still valid and timely and as such they remain on the negotiating table for we remain committed to seeking a solution of the Cyprus problem by peaceful means and we will continue to exert every effort towards that end. We have always been advocating, Mr. Chairman, that reduction of forces and armaments can reduce the risk of an outbreak of a military conflict and can therefore contribute to confidence-building and conflict resolution.

Mr. Chairman,

We strongly believe that peace and security can only be achieved through the implementation of a collective international security system. We, like others, are encouraged by recent developments in the areas of disarmament and arms control, culminating in the unprecedented outcome of the landmark 2000 NPT Conference. We, therefore, agree with the UN Secretary General as stated in his Report to the Organization, that above all else what we need is a reaffirmation of political commitment at the highest level to proceed towards the realizations of our lofty goals.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.