Uzumcu takes office as director-general of OPCW

Turkey's Ahmet Uzumcu took office as the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on July 25.

Uzumcu, appointed by the OPCW in December, says he has been preparing for the post for the last seven months by listening to briefings by senior OPCW officials, reading publications, visiting various state parties and making contacts with civil society representatives.

“My goal is to have a complete picture of OPCW activities as well as substantive and administrative challenges that lie ahead,” Uzumcu said, according

Rogelio Pfirter, the previous Director-General, was helpful as well. According to Uzumcu Pfirter shared his thoughts on a variety of different issues.

“I am fortunate to have such a predecessor, an able leader who has been cordial and transparent,” Uzumcu said, calling the environment at OCPW collegial and saying that his reception has been warm and supportive.

As for his leadership style and plans for the OCPW, Uzumcu said he will continue on in its traditionally effective way, and his tenure will be marked for its participatory approach to challenges.

When asked about whether or not the destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles by the participatory nations will be completed by April 2010, Uzumcu was circumspect.

“These are indeed costly, labor-intensive and hazardous activities,” Uzumcu said. “Tremendous financial, human and material resources have been allocated. We must maintain our efforts until every single chemical weapon is destroyed. We don’t know yet the exact level of destruction to be reached by April 2012. It will certainly be significant. If however the process cannot be completed, this will be due, I am convinced, to technical reasons.”

Uzumcu believes that signing the remaining seven countries to the convention will not be easy, but he maintains it is well worth the time and energy he plans to devote to it.