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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

21st April 2011

Chernobyl 25th anniversary

This week Kyiv has seen one of its largest ever gatherings of international leaders as Presidents, Prime Ministers and other political figures and experts congregate on Kyiv for two conferences to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.  The first is a pledging conference to secure funds for the New Safe Confinement over the damaged Reactor 4 at Chernobyl; the second is a summit on nuclear safety.  The fact that the conferences come shortly after the nuclear accident at the Fukashima Daiichi plant in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami makes the timing particularly appropriate.

I am delighted that British Energy Minister Charles Hendry is able to visit Kyiv to represent the UK at the two conferences.  At the pledging conference, Mr Hendry announces UK contributions to the latest pledging round worth #28.5 million, in line with the previous UK share of contributions to this important initiative.  This pledge is made up of #5.7m contributed to the Nuclear Security Account in 2008, #3.8m contributed to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund in 2008 and #19m contributed to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund in March 2011.  This is in addition to UK contributions in previous pledging rounds worth over [euro]81m.  Details of the announcement are in the Department of Energy and Climate Change press notice.

I am grateful both to the embassy team and to our partners in Ukraine for making possible a wide-ranging programme for Mr Hendry’s visit.  In addition to the two conferences on 19 April we are able to organise a host of contacts across the three days with commercial organisations in the energy sector and wider British commercial interests, as well as meetings and informal discussions with top-level Ukrainian government ministers.  With our British Business Days in Ukraine in March, it’s been an exciting spring for British commercial activity in Ukraine.  I hope that the summer will see an improved business climate in Ukraine and continued growth in UK-Ukraine trade.

I’ve written before about Chernobyl, including the extraordinary experience of visiting the site and the nearby ghost town of Pripyat;  the fund-raising walk which members of the embassy are doing this week; and even the rather off-beat proposals to develop the site for tourism.  It remains to be seen whether the proposed New Safe Confinement – comprising a massive 257 metre-wide by 105 metre-high steel arch – will itself eventually become a tourist attraction.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.