Belarus has done a lot to mitigate the impact of the Chernobyl accident, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with UN Under-Secretary-General, Administrator of the UN Development Program Helen Clark on 25 April.
“You are one of a few international functionaries who have visited the regions contaminated by radiation after the Chernobyl accident. It is easy for me to talk to you because you, just like me, saw everything what had happened there. You see how much effort we put in the mitigation of these consequences,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko thanked Helen Clark and Cihan Sultanoglu, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, for the contribution to the mitigation of the Chernobyl impact. “There are many kind people in the world, such people like you, like those in the UN who help us mitigate the consequences of that disaster. However, I hope you will agree, it does not compare to what Belarus has accomplished,” the head of state remarked. “It was especially hard because we had to deal with the disaster after the collapse of the USSR. We did not build that nuclear power plant. We did not operate it. But the Belarusian territory was affected the worst.”
According to Alexander Lukashenko, the amount of money equal to ten annual budgets of Belarus has been spent on the rehabilitation of the Chernobyl-hit territories. “Today it does not seem that these lands are lost forever as we thought 30 years ago,” the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state stressed that Belarus has accumulated unique knowledge and experience in dealing with such catastrophes. “Let it be our contribution to the development of the mankind. You should be aware that if something bad happens somewhere, our scientists and specialists are ready to do their best to help. This has recently happened at Fukushima where our experience, knowledge, and devices proved useful,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko also presented the Orders of Francysk Skaryna to Helen Clark and Cihan Sultanoglu for their big personal contribution to the enhancement of cooperation between Belarus and the UN in the comprehensive rehabilitation and sustainable development of Chernobyl-hit regions.
In the photo: the award is presented to UN Under-Secretary-General, Administrator of the UN Development Program Helen Clark.
“We accept these awards on behalf of the whole UN team, all those who were took part in the programs to rehabilitate Chernobyl-hit territories in Belarus. We have always felt strong assistance of the Belarusian authorities in the restoration of these lands,” Helen Clark said.
The participants meeting acknowledged that the results from investments in the restoration of Chernobyl-affected territories are obvious. It means that the decisions were right.
The meeting focused on the prospects of bolstering cooperation between Belarus and the UNDP in a number of fields and programs, ranging from information technologies to medicine. The UNPD is also going to support the initiative to create new jobs in Belarusian district and oblast capitals.
It is expected that on 26 April when the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident is marked the head of state will visit affected regions. He will be informed about the development and restoration of these territories, the efforts to improve the living standards of people.