Statement by Ambassador Markku Reimaa, Conference on Disarmament, Geneva

Plenary Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva

Mr President,

Let me congratulate you, Ambassador Lint, for your assumption of the Presidency of the Conference, and for the very efficient way you have conducted consultations and brought us closer to an understanding in order to start real work. You can trust on the full support of my delegation.

During the past years, it has almost become a truism to state that the CD is at a critical juncture. Yet, I would describe this as a critical moment. We have only some days available to seal an agreement on a programme of work and to allow the Conference to move into substantive work during the third round of this year´s session. If we let this opportunity go by, we would risk having lost another year at the Conference.

The NPT Review Conference created new momentum in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The result agreed by consensus was a victory for all States Parties. The outcome is of principal importance to the NPT process. We do see that it has wider impact for pursuing further disarmament and non-proliferation goals. Needless to say, the outcome clearly shows that all problems and differences were not settled. The process must be continued through faithful follow-up and implementation of the decisions taken.

The Conference on Disarmament should derive benefit from the successful NPT Conference. Also here at the CD we have to accept that it is not possible to settle all the differences at once. The past efforts provide a good basis to estimate what is achievable. We can fairly well identify those subject areas that should be included in an agreed programme of work.

I am confident that you, Mr. President, will make every effort for a success. If we concentrate on what is possible and achievable, we can all help you in establishing agreement on a programme of work.

Your concrete ideas, which we find welcome and timely, provide not only a basis for further consideration but a realistic and pragmatic solution for starting substantive work now. In our view, various interests of participating States are well reflected in your approach.

For Finland, it is a key priority to get the FMCT negotiations truly underway. And as we understand the situation, also all other delegations deem it important to start working on this question. For this purpose, the Conference has a mandate text that has been agreed by all delegations in August 1998.

As to nuclear disarmament, we agree with you, Mr President, that we can take fresh guidance from the agreement reached recently in New York. Opening a dialogue on nuclear disarmament matters in the CD context could undoubtedly contribute to efforts that are being done in other arenas. Finland has held the view that the START process is of particular importance. Now that the duma of the Russian Federation has ratified the START 2 Treaty we are looking forward to the early entry into force of the Treaty and the commencement of the START 3 negotiations on further reductions as has been indicated by both parties earlier.

Mr President,

We share with you the approach, that the most reasonable way to proceed is to build upon what has been agreed earlier and where common ground exists. If we look at the topics in front of us, on which there is a large degree of convergence by now, I wonder what is still needed? We consider that the emerging programme of work meets quite substantive and ambitious standards.

But as we have stated in the past, it would be obvious that the pace and intensity of the deliberations on the items in the programme of work might vary, in line with the respective mandates and the preparatory work done earlier. This should be properly reflected in allocating time to different items in the programme of work.

Mr President,

It is widely acknowledged here that the CD should not live in isolation from the outside world. The Conference should reflect the aspirations of different participants in an appropriate way. None of us believes that all of our wishes can be met to the fullest extend, compromises are needed. Yet, the decision making procedure, consensus, will provide sufficient assurances that vital national concerns of all delegations will be taken into account.

I would like to express, on behalf of my delegation, our sincere appreciation to you,
Mr. President, for your tireless efforts. We hope, that the Conference on Disarmament will make a constructive decision and start working on the issues which are familiar to us but also deserve careful and in-depth consideration.

Thank you Mr President !