The President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), Eugene Czolij, participated in the 20th International Conference on Health and Environment “Chornobyl – Lessons for Nuclear Security, 25 Years Later”, which was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on April 26, 2011. The conference was organized by Ukraine’s Permanent Mission to the UN and the non-governmental organization, World Information Transfer.
After the lighting of memorial candles, the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Asha-Rose Mtengeti Migiro, Acting President of the General Assembly, Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, and the Founder of World Information Transfer, Christine Durbak, addressed the conference on the repercussions of the Chornobyl catastrophe and the need for international cooperation and coordination of efforts to deal with the aftermath.
In his statement “Chornobyl: A Global Issue,” UWC President Eugene Czolij recalled the tragic events of 1986 and stated that the disaster at Chornobyl was ultimately a result of the reckless dominance over Ukraine by the Soviet totalitarian regime in Moscow and its wanton disregard for nuclear energy safety standards. The UWC President reminded conference participants of the Kremlin’s outrageous attempts to conceal the magnitude of the global catastrophe, which created general apprehension and uncertainty throughout the world.
He hailed the courage of the hundreds of firefighters and emergency workers who risked their lives trying to wrest control of the stricken reactor and, in many cases, subsequently lost their lives from their exposure to radiation.
He noted that Ukraine did not create the Chornobyl crisis, but inherited the grim and lasting legacy of this nuclear disaster when it gained independence in 1991.
Eugene Czolij reminded conference participants that Ukraine signed the 1994 Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and, by 1996, had dismantled what was then the third largest strategic nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. He called on the international community to ensure that the Memorandum is also respected by the Russian authorities, including their commitment “to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.”
The UWC President also recognized the continuing efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora to assist the disaster victims, primarily by providing for their ongoing medical treatment through the supply of medicines and equipment, and by keeping the international community informed of the situation at Chornobyl. In particular, he highlighted the efforts and resources of such well-known charitable organizations as the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund in the U.S. and the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund.
He also acknowledged the positive results of the April 2011 Chornobyl Pledging Conference held in Kyiv, where participating nations and organizations pledged some 550 million Euros for the construction of a long-term shelter to cover the fourth nuclear reactor and a waste storage facility for the plant’s three other decommissioned reactors.
In the interests of global security, the UWC President called upon the international community to monitor the situation in Chornobyl until the persisting dangers are eliminated.
Eugene Czolij also called on conference participants to honor the memories of all the Chornobyl victims and to express their solidarity with the people of Japan who are currently battling the effects of the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster.
The full text of the UWC President’s statement is available on-line at: http://www.ukrainianworldcongress.org/news.php/news/544
A number of Ukrainian civic organizations addressed the conference, including the President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, Maria Szkambara, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Tamara Gallo Olexy, President of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Marianna Zajac, and President of the US-Ukraine Foundation, Nadia McConnell.
The Bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Stamford, Paul Patrick Chomnycky, UN Development Programme Coordinator, Oksana Leshchenko, ambassadors from several UN member states and the permanent representatives of UWC’s United Nations Council, Askold Lozynskyj and Andrij Dobrianskyj, also participated in the conference.
While attending the conference, the UWC President spoke with Japan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Tsuneo Nishida, and expressed the sympathy of the global Ukrainian community for the recent tragic events in Japan.
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