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.

Mr. Chairman,

This last decade witnessed the demise of the cold-war-era and a complete rewriting of the disarmament and arms control agenda.

During this period we have seen such major achievements as the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and its entry into force in April last year; the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime, in 1995 and the strengthening of its review process; the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty , in 1996 and the signing of the Convention aiming at the total elimination of Anti-Personnel Landmines world-wide last December.

Cyprus supports all efforts aimed at the strengthening of the international non-proliferation regime, through the universal adherence to the existing legally binding international instruments and the development of effective verification mechanisms, through the unilateral measures taken by nuclear weapon states for the reduction of their nuclear arsenals, by the surveillance and control of exports of sensitive materials, equipment and technologies through the appropriate export control mechanisms, through regional arrangements freely entered into by the states concerned, as well as other interim measures, such as the introduction of moratoria and the signing of confidence-building agreements.

We join all previous speakers who have addressed the need to promote the implementation of the objectives laid down in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to secure its universality. Cyprus is firmly committed to the successful outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference and fully shares the objectives of the European Union towards this end.

We would also like to add our voice to those members who have underlined the significance of the fact that 150 countries have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and who have urged for its early entry into force. In this respect we welcome the expressed intention of India and Pakistan to sign the Treaty.

We welcome the recent decision of the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee to start negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and a second ad hoc committee to consider further steps in assuring non-nuclear-weapon states party to the NPT against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Another important development was the entry into force, last April, of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Cyprus became party to the Chemical Weapons Convention in August, after adopting all the necessary internal legislation and after setting up the required machinery for its implementation. Also Cyprus has officially applied to join the Australia Group and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Equally important is the adoption of a legally binding protocol establishing a strengthened verification and compliance regime to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention at the earliest possible date.

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 total elimination of Anti-Personnel Landmines. 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. In this respect we are grateful to the Government of Canada for undertaking to finance demining along the ceasefire line in Cyprus.

We are also encouraged by the attention given to the prevention and combating of the illicit arms trafficking. Cyprus has aligned itself with all measures pursued by the European Union to halt the illicit and covert trafficking of small arms through tighter controls and closer cooperation and coordination.

Mr. Chairman,

We fully share the view expressed by many speakers before us that arms control and disarmament are an essential component of international peace and security. Although the reduction of forces and armaments alone cannot provide for, or guarantee international security, it can, however, reduce the risk of an outbreak of a military conflict and it can contribute to confidence-building and conflict resolution.

In this context, I would like to recall once again the proposal made by the President of the Republic of Cyprus 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.

During his address to the Plenary of this year’s Session of the General Assembly the President of Cyprus stated that in response to UN Security Council resolutions he suggested concrete ways and measures in order to begin work for a specific programme of reduction of foreign and local forces and equipment as a necessary preparatory step for the final withdrawal of all foreign forces and elements from the island and its demilitarization as stipulated in the relevant United Nations resolutions.

The demilitarization proposal made by President Clerides envisages the gradual disbanding of the National Guard of Cyprus, the handing of all arms and military equipment to an International Force and the deposit of all money saved in UN accounts, in exchange for the phased complete withdrawal of all foreign troops and the T/C forces, as demanded by the relevant United Nations resolutions.

As the President of the Republic stated 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.
Mr. Chairman,

Before concluding I would also like to bring to the attention of our committee a matter of great concern for the Government and the people of Cyprus. It regards the decision of the Turkish Government to build a nuclear power plant in a highly seismic area in south-eastern Turkey which apart from the obvious environmental consequences, it poses, we believe, a potential risk to international peace and security.

According to several NGO reports, including the one by Greenpeace, the proposed site of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Akkuyu Bay, situated next to the Ecemis fault line, a highly seismic area, greatly increases the risk of a catastrophic accident that could spread radioactive contamination over Turkey, Cyprus and the Middle East. Such an accident would cause enormous economic and environmental damage, social dislocation, and have a grave impact on the health of surrounding populations. As the relevant report prepared by Greenpeace states, at a time when no new reactors are being ordered in Western Europe and North America and while the nuclear industry has advanced to such a level as to claim that such accidents are unlikely, major accidents have happened at nuclear power stations, and continue to happen.
Mr. Chairman,

Since the Republic of Cyprus became a member of the United Nations in 1960 we have been fully committed to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, an integral part of which is the maintenance of international peace and security. We have consistently supported that genuine and lasting peace can only be achieved through the implementation of an effective international security system as provided for in the UN Charter. During this last decade the international community has made great strides towards the realization of this lofty goal. We have a duty towards future generations to approach the new millenium with the same resolve and determination.