Activities of Secretary-General in Ukraine, 19-21 April

25 April 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Ukraine, 19-21 April

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Kyiv from Budapest in the morning of Tuesday, 19 April.

In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General held a working lunch  with François Fillon, Prime Minister of France.  They discussed the situations in Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Lebanon and the wider North Africa-Middle East region.  With regard to nuclear safety and security, they exchanged views on options for international cooperation, current national review processes as well as implications for sustainable clean energy.

The Secretary-General then travelled to Ukrainian House, where he was welcomed by Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, and Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The Secretary-General then addressed the Kyiv Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Atomic Energy, and said that the explosion at Chernobyl 25 years earlier had cast a radioactive cloud over Europe and a shadow around the world.  At this moment, he said, the tragedy at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant continues to unfold, leading to a moment for deep reflection:  How do we ensure both the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maximum safety?  (See Press Release SG/SM/13513)

The Secretary-General said that we need a global rethink on this fundamental question.  Because the consequences are catastrophic, safety must be paramount.

He said that it is time for a top-to-bottom review of nuclear safety standards, both national and international.  Also, he said, we must strengthen support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the challenge of nuclear safety; we must put a sharper focus on the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety; we must undertake a renewed cost-benefit analysis of nuclear energy; and we need to build a stronger connection between nuclear safety and nuclear security.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General also had a number of bilateral meetings, including with Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan.  The two men exchanged views on nuclear safety and security, as well as regional cooperation in Central Asia.

With Zhang Dejiang, Vice Prime Minister of China, the Secretary-General discussed, inter alia, nuclear safety and security, the situation in the Korean peninsula and the forthcoming Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries, to be held in Istanbul in May 2011.

With José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, the Secretary-General spoke about developments in and United Nations-European Union cooperation on North Africa and the Middle East.  The Secretary-General thanked the European Commission for its support for his initiative of developing an international framework for nuclear safety and security.

In the evening, the Secretary-General attended a dinner hosted by President Yanukovych for the heads of delegations participating in the Summit.  Mr. Ban then attended a requiem concert at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Ukraine.

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General flew by helicopter to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, along with President Yanukovych, and saw first-hand the situation there, 25 years after the nuclear crisis.  He was the first Secretary-General to visit Chernobyl.  He told reporters that it was an extremely moving experience.

He said that the recent Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, together with the Chernobyl disaster, have provided a strong message and we have to learn lessons from these tragedies.  We have to strengthen nuclear safety standards, both at national and international levels.

The Secretary-General, upon returning from Chernobyl, had a working luncheon with President Yanukovych, and later addressed an international scientific conference on nuclear safety — at the International Research-to-Practice Conference entitled “25 Years after Chernobyl Catastrophe — Safety for the Future”.  He recalled the 6,000 children whose health was seriously undermined by thyroid cancer and the 6 million people who continue to live in affected communities of Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13515)

He also met that day with Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.  They spoke about cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe in North Africa and the Middle East, the human rights of migrants and minorities in Europe, as well as the situation in the Western Balkans.

Later in the afternoon, he met with the United Nations country team and held a town hall meeting with United Nations staff based in Ukraine.

In the evening, he was hosted to dinner by Foreign Minister Gryshchenko.

Before his departure for the Russian Federation on Thursday morning, the Secretary-General was awarded an honorary doctorate and spoke at the Kyiv Institute of International Relations.  He discussed the question of nuclear safety, and also talked about the recent dispute in Côte d’Ivoire, noting that throughout the problems there, the international community stood firm on principle: that in a democracy, people have the right to choose their leaders.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13518)

For information media. Not an official record.