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Statement by Mr Vladimir TSALKA Head of Chernobyl Committee of the Republic of Belarus at the Concluding Conference of the Chernobyl Forum (Vienna, September,6)

Dear Mr Chairman!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

First of all, let me express my sincere gratitude to IAEA Director General professor Mohamed ElBaradei for putting forward and successfully advancing an initiative to establish the Chernobyl Forum. Taking into account the fact that this initiative of the Director General was declared for the first time during his visit to Belarus, our country has been participating in the Forums work with a special feeling of responsibility. Forums activities and its final documents will have significant practical value for optimizing national policies on overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and sustainable development of the affected regions, as well as for advancing the international cooperation on Chernobyl.

Summing up Forums findings that we start today is a major landmark in solving the problems caused by the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. Belarus expects that results Forums activities will allow the world community and the three most affected nations to carry out coordinated policy on combating the consequences of the largest man-caused catastrophe in the history of humankind that had changed lives of millions of people of present and future generations.

For the last years the Republic of Belarus has been continuously conducting systematic large-scale activities aimed at overcoming the Chernobyl consequences. Several national Chernobyl programmes have been implemented. The Chernobyl legislation covers all necessary spheres. It is based on the Laws of the Republic of Belarus On Social Protection of the Citizens Affected by the Catastrophe on Chernobyl NPP, On Legal Status of the Territories Exposed to Radioactive Contamination Resulting from Catastrophe on the Chernobyl NPP, and On Radiation Safety of the Population.

137.6 thousand people have been resettled from the affected regions. For these people more than 66 thousand houses and apartments have been built, 239 villages have been erected in uncontaminated areas of Belarus. Relevant infrastructure has been put in place, including schools, kindergartens, polyclinics and hospitals. Gasification of the affected areas is in the progress.

Nevertheless, the Government of Belarus still faces the need to continue large-scale actions to overcome the Chernobyl consequences. It can be demonstrated by amount of state expenditures about two billions dollars that are planned to be allocated for the next 2006-2010 national Chernobyl programme. However the twenty years' experience proves that the efforts of Belarus alone are not enough.

The main purpose of the national policy on overcoming the Chernobyl consequences is the safety for people, sustainable health care for one and a half million population, which lives on the radioactively contaminated territories, including about 100 thousand Chernobyl liquidators.

To achieve this purpose a number of actions on radiation protection of the population, aimed at restriction of radiation dozes and their maintenance at a legislatively established level, is carried out. Protective measures are also taken in agriculture and forestry sectors so that production meets national acceptable levels. Agricultural activities are carried out on 1.3 million hectares of the contaminated soil. The methods and technologies developed by our experts allow receiving normatively clean production on such territories.

Every year the number of villages, where cases of production of milk with excess of admissible levels of caesium-137 are registered, decreases. Such critical settlements are in the focus of special governments attention, and this is where the necessary resources are directed as a matter of priority.

A major attention of the national policy is given to health problems of the affected population, including liquidators and children living on contaminated territories. A domestically developed and nationally financed system of medical supervision, including prophylactic medical examination, diagnostics and treatment of diseases, recreation allows to mitigate to a certain extent the health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

However our experts predict that in the nearest future alongside the growth of thyroid cancer cases, there is high probability of increase cancer diseases, as well as cardiovascular and other non-cancer diseases. Therefore, the health problems remain in the focus of the governments attention. We continue our work on improvement of medical care, including modern equipment, medicines, and medical personnel.

In overcoming Chernobyl problems Belarus closely cooperates with the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization, and the other international organizations, governmental and nongovernmental initiatives in many countries.

On behalf of my government I express the gratitude to all those who have taken close to heart the Chernobyl tragedy, to everyone who has been rendering assistance in overcoming the Chernobyl tragedy.

Dear Mr Chairman!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me emphasize, that the Chernobyl Forum is a significant step forward in comprehending the whole range of long-term consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe. At the same time, Forums work and its final documents show that some questions, including medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident, remain opened and require the further detailed studies.

For my country the criterion for the Forums success is not just a set of recommendations to the governments of the affected states, but also further joint actions on their practical implementation. Belarus is ready to actively cooperate with all international organizations participants of the Forum.

We need to consider that many problems are still to be solved. First of all, the population is still concerned by health issues, clean production, returning to normal working and living conditions, radiation safety.

In our opinion, the mainstream of the further Chernobyl strategy should be a stage-by-stage rehabilitation of the affected territories and population. The purpose of this strategy is the creation of viable life conditions where profitable economic activities are carried out without radiation restrictions. To achieve this goal, generally approved approaches to rehabilitation based on expense-and-profit analysis are required.

The issue of rehabilitation is a mixture of radio-ecological, economic, demographic and social-psychological factors. My countrys experience shows that to solve successfully rehabilitation problems one needs a detailed estimation of all components defining a situation in a given town, village of a farmyard. It is also necessary to consider that success depends on the perception by the population, and therefore special attention should be given to the information received by population and local authorities.

Belarus draft National Programme on Overcoming the Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster for the years 2006-2010 aims at valid economic revival and sustainable development of the affected regions. It is required not only to receive clean production, but also to ensure its profitable manufacture on the basis of scientifically-proven technologies. All the major Forums recommendations will find there place in the Programme, and we hope that they will help us make a new significant step in overcoming consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in our country.

In conclusion let me as a co-chair of the international organizing committee invite all of you to take part in the international conference 20 Years After Chernobyl: Strategy for Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions that will take place in Minsk, Belarus, on 19-21 April 2006.

Thank you for your attention!

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