Press release
267/2011
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
14.10.2011 19.51

Finland to host conference on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East

Finland is set to host a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in 2012. Under-Secretary of State Mr. Jaakko Laajava has been appointed as facilitator for the Conference. The United Nations Secretary-General and the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States informed the United Nations General Assembly of the appointment in New York on the 14th of October 2011 based on consultations held with countries in the region. A message by the President Mrs. Tarja Halonen regarding the appointment will be delivered at the UN on Friday.

According to Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Erkki Tuomioja the appointment to this challenging task is a significant acknowledgement to Finland. “The zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is an important goal, which, if realized, would constitute a major step in advancing peace and stability in the region. The conference to be organized in Finland will for its part be a way to promote dialogue among the countries in the region in security issues. We are committed to organizing the conference and will work in close cooperation with countries in the region to that end.”

The decision to convene the conference was made at the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The conference seeks to advance the goal of establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction set by States Parties to the NPT in 1995.

Under-Secretary of State Laajava will consult countries in the region to lay the ground for the conference. The facilitator is to report back to the 2015 NPT Review Conference and its Preparatory Committees to be held in 2012-2014.

Further information: Director Markku Virri, tel. +358 9 1605 6185, and Deputy Director Päivi Laivola de Rosière, tel. +358 40 351 3646