High Level Segment of the 2021 Plenary Session of the Conference on Disarmament – Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia H.E. Ms. Eva-Maria Liimets – Geneva, 22 February 2021

Mr. President, distinguished delegates

1. 2020 was an unusual year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It also disrupted strongly our
activities in the disarmament fora. The current health crisis has shown that it takes a
coordinated global effort and effective multilateralism to address both current and future

2. We find ourselves in a difficult international security environment. The rules and treaty based
international security order has started to erode. Some States have disregarded long-standing
core principles of international law, violated their international obligations, and are not
complying with relevant international mechanisms. This is our collective concern. Against this
backdrop, we welcome the extension of the New START Treaty by the United States and the
Russian Federation. We hope it will lead to negotiations on broader follow-on agreements and
encourage China to engage in these discussions.

3. The re-emergence of chemical weapons use is a worrying trend. In 2020, the OPCW confirmed
the 2017 deplorable use of chemical agents by Syria. In August 2020, a Russian opposition
leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned using a military chemical nerve agent. Estonia strongly
condemns the poisoning of Mr. Navalny and any attempts to use chemical weapons for
intimidating political opponents. It is vital to further advance the global norm to prohibit
chemical weapons. Estonia will continue to address these threats, as an elected member of the
United Nations Security Council for the period 2020-2021.

Mr. President,

4. We need to ensure the successful outcome of the Review Conference of the Treaty of the Non-
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons this August and to strengthen its role as a major multilateral
instrument of international security. Estonia shares the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear
weapons, pursued in a realistic and responsible way. To this end, Estonia supports the
commencement of the negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament on the Fissile
Material Cut-off Treaty.

5. In this context, let me reiterate our wish to take part in any future negotiations and Estonia’s
request since 2001 to participate equally as a member state in the work of the Conference on
Disarmament. We deeply regret the rejection of the observer status requests of several United
Nations member states, including a fellow EU member state Cyprus this year.

Mr. President, distinguished delegates,

6. The Conference on Disarmament is the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating
body and it is the responsibility of its members to ensure its relevance. The CD should continue
the strategic dialogue and discuss its core topics. It should also be able to address new
challenges such as the weaponization of new technologies, cyber threats and other emerging
issues. We have seen a lot of good will and readiness to compromise in the CD this year. The
CD members should build on this to bring the CD back on track.

Let me conclude by extending my best wishes to all the Presidents of the 2021 session.
You can count on Estonia´s full support!