Twenty years ago the whole world was shocked by the worst ever man-caused catastrophe in the history of mankind — the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. Belarus, the country that suffered more than any other affected states, had to overcome the consequences of the disaster on its own, spending colossal funds and resources. We managed to do a lot, but there are still many problems that need to be tackled. The lower chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives, held traditional annual hearings dedicated to the problem of Chernobyl. Attending the hearings were not only MPs, but also heads of ministries and agencies, well-known scientists and specialists. As a result of the hearings the government of the country was recommended specific measures to facilitate the rehabilitation of affected areas.
The speaker of the lower house, Vladimir Konoplyov, managed to word the goal of the hearings very precisely: the discussion of the Chernobyl issue at such a high level is bound to draw the attention of the international community to the Chernobyl disaster and strengthen international cooperation in overcoming the consequences of man-caused accidents. “The tragedy that affected Belarus could have hit any other country of the world. The experience that we accumulated in recovering our land from the effects of the disaster and the Belarusian disaster prevention system are valuable for the whole world. We call on the international community to cooperate, and we do not just expect humanitarian aid, but a full-scale mutually beneficial cooperation,” the speaker said.
Other rapporteurs addressed foreign humanitarian aid, too. Although Belarus appreciates the efforts of foreign countries, institutions, organizations and individuals that help Belarus get over the Chernobyl “heritage”, foreign funds are clearly not enough. According to the head of the commission for Chernobyl, ecology and nature management, Vitaly Kulik, MPs have more than once applied to foreign organizations for joint implementation of specific social and economic programs.
“It is time we switched from clothes and food to serious economic projects,” the MP told the parliament. “The key tasks of the government and parliament are to coordinate international efforts to overcome the consequences of the catastrophe, especially to encourage foreign investments in the economy of the affected areas.” The MP noted with regret that foreign investors were not really interested in these projects. “We have few investors now, although this sort of help is more important than humanitarian aid,” he said. There is still hope, though, as one of the initiatives of the parliament that was presented as a recommendation to the government sounds like this: “To address to foreign governments the initiative to create an international Chernobyl fund to finance the arrangements aimed to liquidate the consequences of the disaster at the Chernobyl station.”
by Anatoly Nemirovitch