The President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Abdullah Gül, visited the OPCW headquarters in The Hague today where he was co-hosted by Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü and the Chair of the Conference of the States Parties, H.E. Paul Arkwright. During his stay, the President delivered an address to a capacity audience of Permanent Representatives accredited to the OPCW, together with Dutch, Turkish and international officials.
President Gül was accompanied by the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs, Mr. Egemen Bağış, and a group of Turkish parliamentarians. The OPCW Executive Council Chair, H.E. Peter Goosen, ambassadors and senior OPCW staff members were introduced to the President, who unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit that will be permanently displayed in the Technical Secretariat.
In his address [PDF – 21 KB], broadcast live by Turkey’s TRT state television network and on the Internet by the OPCW, President Gül reiterated the importance that his country attaches to the Chemical Weapons Convention. He called the verified elimination of declared chemical weapons and agents by the OPCW “remarkable achievements” and a “litmus test” for other disarmament efforts, adding that the speedy completion of these destruction efforts is crucial.
“Our accomplishments in this direction give us hope that we may one day attain a weapons of mass destruction free world” he said. “I believe this should be the common aspiration of all countries represented in this hall. It is my further conviction that this Organization will lead the path for an eventual WMD-free world.”
Describing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as “one of the grave threats in our contemporary world”, President Gül said Turkey has actively promoted the creation of a WMD- free zone in the Middle East and assumed the leading role on this issue within the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which will convene in Istanbul at the ministerial level on 27 April with a specific focus on the region.
In his welcoming remarks [PDF – 12 KB], Director-General Üzümcü noted President Gül’s close understanding of multilateral cooperation in the sphere of security due to his decade in the European Council Parliamentary Assembly and previous service as Turkey’s Foreign Minister, during which time the Director-General had the honour of working for him. He warmly thanked the President for his visit, which he said reflected Turkey’s strong commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and will be a source of great encouragement for the OPCW’s work.
Ambassador Arkwright, in closing remarks, said that President Gül’s visit would remind delegates of their responsibility not to waver in the mission of ridding the world of the scourge of chemical weapons and sparing humanity from the horrors witnessed in the past.
President Gül is in the Netherlands at the invitation of Queen Beatrix on a State visit from 17-19 April, which coincides with the 400th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Video and photographic images of his visit to the OPCW can be accessed via the OPCW website at www.opcw.org