– As delivered –

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

26 April 2021


Distinguished delegates,

Thirty-five years ago, tragedy struck the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Although years have passed, the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster persists.

We remember those who lost their lives as a result of the accident, and those whose lives changed forever.

As human beings we instinctively run away from danger. Today I am thinking of the firefighters who fought that instinct, who walked into danger in order to protect the world. They did not do what was easy – they did what was right. In doing the right thing they paid the ultimate sacrifice, and they will not be forgotten.

In the shadow of this tragedy, recovery workers rallied to respond as local villages and towns were left empty. The trauma of evacuation left its mark on the lives of many in the surrounding areas.

Families fled their homes, their daily routine disrupted forever more, facing a new reality of unemployment and poverty.

Thousands of children were affected by debilitating health issues including thyroid cancer, the course of their future irreparably altered.

We think of those who reside today in the affected areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine – your resilience is a testament to the power of humanity.

I commend the governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine for working to protect people from the effects of radiation, mitigate the effects of the accident, and build a better future for affected communities.

In addition, I applaud the United Nations Development Programme which played a critical role in coordinating United Nations activities in the aftermath of the disaster.

This solemn anniversary reminds us that we must continue to build resilience and to be prepared for unexpected challenges, to create a safer future for all.


The world has not, and will not, forget the disaster at Chernobyl.

I thank you.