November 25, 2017

Statement by Mr. Yiorgos Christofides Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the First Committee on Disarmament

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to congratulate you on the assumption of the Chairmanship of the First Committee. We are confident that with your long experience and wise guidance the goals of this Committee will be fully achieved. I would also like to assure you of my delegation’s full support to your important task.

The Republic of Cyprus has aligned itself with the comprehensive statement delivered by the Italian Presidency of the European Union, I will thus limit this statement to some issues of particular interest to my delegation by mainly reporting on some recent initiatives of my Government in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

 

Mr. Chairman,

We are very pleased to bring to the attention of this committee the fact that, earlier this year, Cyprus has deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Landmines, reaffirming thus its support to the international community’s collective efforts to eliminate this totally inhumane method of warfare. Despite the continuing foreign occupation of almost 40% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and the constant threat posed by some 40,000 occupation troops stationed on the island, the ratification of the Ottawa Convention comes as a concrete demonstration of our political will for peace and reconciliation in Cyprus and as part of our genuine commitment to international norms in the field of disarmament.

We had the opportunity last year to refer to several concrete steps we have already been taking in line with the Convention’s aims, including mine clearance operations, refurbishment of existing minefields, and the destruction of stockpiles. It is noted that the Government of Cyprus has since 1983 cleared ten (10) minefields adjacent to the buffer zone, and during the last two years destroyed more than eleven thousand mines of various types.

Furthermore, the Government of Cyprus has taken the initiative to clear all minefields laid by the National Guard in the buffer zone immediately after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, in an effort to reduce tension and put an end to the threat against innocent human life, thus contributing to the return of these areas to conditions of normality and safety.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, speaking before the General Assembly last month, announced the Government’s decision and firm commitment first: to unilaterally start within the next two months, in cooperation with the United Nations and the financial support of the European Union, demining in the buffer zone and second: to unilaterally proceed with the destruction of an appreciable amount of stockpiled anti-personnel mines, during the month of November this year. As the President has put it “this is just a first but, I believe, a major step in the implementation of our obligations under the Ottawa Convention”.

 

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus is firmly committed to the policy of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and has ratified all relevant international instruments. Moreover, being a member of the Australia Group and the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the last three years, Cyprus has recently submitted its application to become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime. In this respect, I would like to mention here that my Government has set up an efficient National Export Controls System, which is modelled on the European Union guidelines, as well as the guidelines of the export control regimes, of which Cyprus is a member. The EU acquis, in the field of export controls, has been fully implemented in view of full accession to the EU on 1st May, 2004 .

In addition, Cyprus has subscribed to the International Code of Conduct and is about to submit its first Annual Declaration. We take this opportunity to express our support to this important initiative and the view that a relationship between The Code and the UN should be established.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we also are pleased to report that on 18 July 2003 Cyprus has deposited the instrument of ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and we join previous speakers in calling for its early entry into force.

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.