October 18, 2018

Statement by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis

OPCW 11th Regional Meeting of National Authorities of States Parties in Asia

Nicosia, 8 May 2013

Madam Deputy Director General,
Distinguished Representatives of National Authorities
and Members of the Technical Secretariat,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you on behalf of the government of the Republic of Cyprus to the 11th Regional Meeting of National Authorities of States Parties in Asia. Cyprus feels privileged to be hosting this meeting and is truly honoured by your presence. I am well aware that many of you have travelled a long way in order to be here and this we very much appreciate.

I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to H.E. the Deputy Director General of the OPCW, Ambassador Grace Asirwatham, and express my gratitude for her visit to Cyprus on the occasion of this meeting as well as for the series of bilateral consultations that we have had the opportunity to hold.

Last but certainly not least, I wish to extend my appreciation to the Technical Secretariat staff for their dedicated work and close cooperation in the preparation of this meeting.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The hosting of this meeting is but one example of Cyprus’s unequivocal commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to the work of the OPCW. Cyprus is also particularly pleased to be in a position, through the hosting of this meeting, to make a tangible contribution to the collaboration between the States Parties of the Asia Group.

From the very early days of the OPCW, Cyprus, free of a strong national agenda, has aimed at being a constructive member of the Organisation, supporting the role and the work of the Technical Secretariat, and advocating the need for close cooperation between States Parties. Whilst, as in every international organisation, differences of opinion arise, it is vital that, based on a cooperative approach and through the filter of consultation and negotiation, emerge consensual decisions that benefit the work of the OPCW. Indeed, the Organisation has an outstanding track-record of consensual decision-making of which the Third Review Conference that took place last month in The Hague, is but one, if significant, example. I wish to assure you of my government’s continued determination to contribute positively, to the best of its abilities, to the work of the Organisation and the mutual understanding between States Parties.

The importance that Cyprus attaches to the OPCW is simply a natural consequence of the importance it attaches to the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The goal of a world free of chemical weapons is deeply humanitarian in nature and instills upon us a moral responsibility. Suffice it to recall the horrors experienced by the victims of chemical weapons: at different places, in different times, under different circumstances yet a common element in all cases is the terrible human suffering inflicted. By joining the OPCW we have all committed to work towards preventing such crimes being repeated; anywhere and by anyone.

The best way of honouring the memory of victims of chemical warfare is through concrete action towards implementing all the provisions of the Convention. And for this it is essential that we – the States Parties – do our part. This is where the object of the meeting for which we have gathered here today connects with the overarching goals of the OPCW. As States Parties, we are here to exchange experiences and learn from each other, in order to be in a position to better fulfill the requirements of the Convention. Through the improvement of the implementation of the Convention at the national level, we make our tangible contribution towards a world free of chemical weapons.

Each State Party’s needs, means and circumstances are without doubt different. As a small country, Cyprus is well aware of the resources needed to properly implement our obligations under the Convention and the competing priorities that often exist. This is why this meeting is an excellent opportunity to benefit from each other’s knowledge as well as the invaluable expertise and assistance of the Technical Secretariat in order to improve our contribution to the implementation of the Convention. The Cypriot authorities are looking forward to sharing with you their experiences and, perhaps more importantly, benefiting from your own expertise and best-practices.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. In these 15 or so years, a great deal has been done towards achieving the object and purpose of the Convention. Destruction of chemical weapons has progressed significantly, 188 States are now Parties to the Convention whilst a lot of effort has been invested in the full implementation of all the provisions of the Convention. As a result, the OPCW remains an excellent example of effective multilateralism.

Needless to say, our work does not end here. At the recent Third Review Conference, which the UN Secretary General addressed for the first time, we collectively took decisions that will guide the work of the Organisation in the time ahead. The recommendations of the Review Conference allow the OPCW to work towards adapting to contemporary and future challenges brought about by the ever-changing security environment. In parallel, I would like to underline that it remains a priority to complete the destruction of chemical weapons at the earliest time possible as well as to pursue the universality of the Convention. It is now for us States Parties, in the same spirit of consensus, and in tandem with the Technical Secretariat, to carry the work of the Organisation forward.

The Third Review Conference also considered the situation in Syria. Cyprus, as a country which shares traditional, strong bonds of friendship with the Arab world including the people of Syria, cannot but be deeply concerned by the events taking place in this neighbouring country. At the Review Conference the States Parties expressed their shared concern that “chemical weapons may have been used […] and underlined that the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be reprehensible and completely contrary to the legal norms and standards of the international community”. I would like to take the opportunity to commend the Director General and the Technical Secretariat for their readiness to assist the UN Secretary General in the conduct of a mission for the investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons.

Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The possibility of use of chemical weapons has served as a stark reminder of the seriousness of the danger posed by these weapons. Allow me then to conclude by coming back to my earlier point regarding the humanitarian nature of the object and purpose of the Convention. Whilst our thoughts turn to the tragic effects on humanity of past use of chemical weapons, through our active participation in the work of the Organisation we contribute concretely in efforts to ensure that such events never occur again. I would like to assure you of Cyprus’s full commitment to continue working with all States Parties and the Technical Secretariat to achieve our common aim of a world free of chemical weapons.

I have no doubt that the ideals underpinning the OPCW will inspire your work over the next three days.

I conclude with once again welcoming you and wishing you a productive meeting and an enjoyable stay in Cyprus.

I thank you for your attention.