I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The 2016 European Union Global Strategy for the Union's Foreign and Security Policy as well as the 2003 European Union Strategy against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are founded on the conviction that a multilateral approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, provides the best way to maintain international peace and security.
The Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean of 13 July 2008, establishing the Union for the Mediterranean, reaffirmed the common aspiration to achieve peace as well as regional security as set out in the Barcelona Declaration adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of 27-28 November 1995, which, inter alia, promotes regional security through, inter alia, nuclear, chemical and biological non-proliferation, adherence to regional arrangements such as zones free of nuclear weapons, including their verification regimes, as well as by fulfilling in good faith the commitments of the signatories to the Barcelona Declaration under arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation conventions.
The Parties to the Union for the Mediterranean agreed to pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of WMD and their delivery systems and to consider practical steps, inter alia, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as the excessive accumulation of conventional arms.
The EU reiterates its full support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which has laid the foundation for establishing nuclear-free zones around the world as well as the establishment of a Middle East Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction-Free Zone (ME WMDFZ).
It remains a strategic priority of the EU to support peace and stability in the entire Middle East. The EU remains committed to the implementation of the Resolution on the Middle East adopted at the 1995 NPT Review Conference. The EU reaffirms its full support for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, as agreed by NPT States Parties. The path for action as set out in the 2010 Action Plan remains the most promising basis on which to proceed.
The EU is of the view that such Zones can only be established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at between all States of the region concerned. The EU maintains the view that dialogue and building confidence among stakeholders is the only sustainable way to agree on arrangements for a meaningful conference, to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by them. The process must be inclusive for it to be effective and proposals that force the issue risks failure.
The EU has consistently presented this position at the UN, as was also the case in recent UN discussions related to concrete proposals on how to take the process forward. The EU reiterates its support for the UN Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament ‘Securing our Common Future’, presented on 24 May 2018, which pledges to work with UN Member States to strengthen and consolidate nuclear-weapon-free zones including by supporting the further establishment of such zones, including in the Middle East. The EU takes note of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, held on 18-22 November 2019 in New York. The EU calls on all Parties to further their efforts to build an inclusive and consensus-based process, including all States of the region, taking into account the security concerns of all States and covering all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, in line with the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and the 2010 NPT Review Conference Outcome. The EU reconfirms its readiness to assist the process leading to the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, as it has done in the past by facilitating dialogue among States of the region. Specific legislative acts have been adopted at the EU to support UN works in this regard. Council Decision CSDP 2017/809 currently supports the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, where assistance requests from States to take additional, practical steps to implement the obligations of UNCSR 1540 (2004) at national level, gives priority to States from, inter alia, the Gulf and Middle East region.
The EU promotes very concretely the process leading to the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East and adopted a number of decisions in that regard.
Firstly, the Council Decision 2019/615 of 15 April 2019 in support of activities leading up to the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In this framework, the EU delivered a specific statement on the WMD Free Zone in the Middle East at the Third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT taking place in New York from 27 April until 10 May 2019.
Secondly, the Council adopted Decision (CFSP) 2019/938 of 6 June 2019 specifically in support of a process of confidence-building leading to the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It reinforces EU efforts to bring the process forward by organising seminars and meetings as was done in 2011 and in 2012 respectively. It aims to enhance confidence building through a number of seminars, work-shops and research projects, whose objective it is to reach a deeper collective understanding of the successes and failures related to previous efforts and which would eventually allow for ideas on new avenues and proposals leading to a WMD free zone in the Middle East. This project will last for 3 years.
Thirdly, the Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/538 of 1 April 2019 in support of key activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) including the universalisation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the implementation of the Decision of the 4th Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the CWC on addressing the threat from chemical weapons use (C-SS-4/DEC.3) adopted on 27 June 2018.
The EU also confirms its readiness to continue to assist the Middle East region, via "The European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centers of Excellence Initiative" (CBRN CoE), which was launched in response to the need to strengthen the institutional capacity of countries outside the European Union to mitigate CBRN risks. The Centers of Excellence established in Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates all contribute to enhanced capacity building in the region and cooperation between these States. Examples thereof include training on radiological detection undertaken by the Middle East Centre of Excellence in Amman on 8-10 April 2019, within the framework of the EU CBRN CoE risk mitigation Initiative, as well as other countries in the region, such as training in risk mitigation in which the EU engaged with Iraqi CBRN authorities on 9-12 September 2019.
Finally, the EU continues to call on all States in the region, which have not yet done so, to accede to and abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and to conclude a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, the Additional Protocol and, as applicable, a modified Small Quantities Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Also subscription to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missiles Proliferation (HCoC) could contribute to regional confidence building, which is necessary for progress towards a Middle East WMD free zone.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.