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Statement on the Commemoration of the Centenary of the First Large-scale use of Chemical Weapons

EU News 107/2015

Brussels, 21/04/2015

One hundred years ago one of the most awful pages of our recent history was open: for the first time, chemical weapons were used on a large scale at Ypres/Ieper. Today we honour the memory of all the victims of these horrific weapons. But unfortunately that page hasn't been turned yet.

The European Union supports the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a most successful international instrument which eliminated an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in relatively short time. This Convention constitutes a cornerstone of international efforts to prevent chemical agents or substances from ever being developed, produced or otherwise acquired and used as weapons. It is a crucial element of our collective security and one of the key instruments of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation.

Universalisation of the Convention remains a key priority for the EU and remaining States not yet Parties to the Convention should ratify or accede to it as soon as possible.

The European Union provides tangible support to the CWC by engaging politically under the Convention and by allocating significant financial resources to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the development of its core activities and in support of specific projects, such as the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program. I had the chance to visit the headquarters of the OPCW in The Hague last week and to pay tribute to the Director General of OPCW Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü and the organization's staff, who have displayed particular commitment to the goals of the Convention, many times in challenging circumstances. The awarding of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to OPCW constitutes a token of recognition of their efforts and achievements.

As EU we continue to condemn the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances. Their use is totally unacceptable, it's a violation of international norms and standards, and all those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable.

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