10th regional meeting of OPCW National Authorities of States Parties in Eastern Europe
Welcoming remarks by Mr. Alar Streimann, Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dear Director General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome you, Mr. Üzümcü, and all our good guests here in our wonderful capital Tallinn. Today’s meeting of OPCW national authorities comes in a very special time for Estonia. For the first time in history, our capital is also the acting Cultural Capital of Europe and in coming August Estonia will be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our restored independence.
The reason why we are gathered here today - the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) - was signed by Estonia as early as in January 1993 and a National Authority to ensure its full and effective implementation was established soon after that. Presently, this task is performed by the national Health Board and I would like to use this opportunity to express our gratitude to the OPCW and its Technical Secretariat for both effective and most useful co-operation.
By today, 188 countries have joined this unique and most valuable multilateral instrument in the fight against weapons of mass destruction, representing 97% of world’s nations. This remarkable and very inspiring success gives hope to our pursuit towards eliminating all chemical weapons completely and permanently, and to promote a world where chemistry is exclusively used for the benefit of mankind.
However, until there is at least one country in the world abstaining, our work is incomplete. Let me reiterate that while committing to the full implementation of the Convention’s provisions at home, and enhancing the relevant legal basis, Estonia supports all efforts to achieve the universal adherence to the CWC.
Another ongoing challenge is the destruction of existing stockpiles. While almost 65% of declared chemical warfare agents have been verifiably destroyed and three States have eliminated their stockpiles completely, this endeavour has to be continued until all countries have met their commitment.
Ladies and gentlemen,
An impressive milestone was reached last month in the implementation of the CWC as the 2000th inspection of a declared chemical facility was completed. I believe this is no coincidence that the topic of industry inspections underpins our present meeting as well as this activity contributes to the safety of our chemical industries affirming our confidence to the OPCW verification regime at the same time. Estonia supports the increased attention to those inspections that are carried out in other chemical production facilities. On Wednesday, you will have the opportunity to visit Eastman Chemical Company – one out of two sites of such kind in Estonia.
Estonia attaches great importance to the strengthening of the verification regime as to avoid potential violations and to adapt to rapid development of chemical science and technology. We should closely observe the development in this field in order to enable the Organisation and its Member States to adapt the implementation of the Convention, if necessary.
Let me conclude by emphasising that the peaceful development of technology is something Estonia supports wholeheartedly and we are willing to participate on international chemistry sciences co-operation as well. After all, the cross-cutting utilisation of new technology has been the key behind our fast-track transition over last two decades.
We all know from the history that peace and progress have not always been in friendly terms. Yet, what a difference it can make if these two are advanced hand-in-hand and used exclusively for saving and improving the human life. The example of OPCW is indeed a clear illustration of this.
With these thoughts let me wish you an inspirational meeting here in Tallinn, surrounded by the exceptional mixture of innovation and medieval times – and the synergy it creates.