The OPCW Director-General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü paid an official visit to France where he had meetings with Mr Louis Gauthier, Secretary General for Defense and National Security; Mr Philippe Errera, Director General of International Relations and Strategy, Ministry of Defence; Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Director General for Political and Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Ms Hélène Duchêne, Director of Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Director-General also received a briefing on the SECOIA project, an initiative of the French Ministry of Defense. The objective of SECOIA is to establish a modern facility for the destruction and disposal of old chemical weapons from World War I. The SECOIA facility is expected to become operational in 2016. He also visited the Centre d’Etudes du Bouchet, which hosts the French OPCW designated laboratory.
Today, at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director-General was conferred the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration awarded by the French government. Ambassador Üzümcü received the Légion d’Honneur in recognition of his services as OPCW Director-General and achievements over a long diplomatic career. The ceremony was attended by high-level French and Turkish officials, and members of the Üzümcü family. The award was given to the Director-General by Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
“I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition by the French government, a long-standing partner in global chemical disarmament efforts,” said Director-General Üzümcü. “I share this recognition with the many colleagues who have worked with me to establish a more peaceful and secure world.”