MAYORS FOR PEACE OPEN
OFFICE IN SEMEY
Astana, March 20: Twenty
years ago, Kazakhstan impressed the world with its decision to close down the
nuclear test site and remove all the nuclear weapons. To present day, the
country remains committed to the global process of non-proliferation and
reduction of nuclear weapons, using all available platforms, including
international organisations, to urge the world do the same.
new alliances and promoting the cooperation within the Mayors for Peace
organisation has become Kazakhstan’s most recent step in this direction. On
March 17, the centre of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, the town of
Kurchatov, hosted an international conference arranged jointly with the Mayors
for Peace. As a result, nine more cities in Kazakhstan joined the Organisation
and a representative office of the organisation opened in Semey. Also, the
government of the East Kazakhstan region and the Secretariat of the Mayors for
Peace signed a joint action plan.
conference, entitled “New Generation for A Nuclear Weapons Free World” was organised
by the regional administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the newly
established scientific, research and educational institution, the Nazarbayev
participate in the Conference, the European delegation of Mayors for Peace, including
mayors of several cities in Belgium, Croatia, and Norway, paid a three-day
visit to the East Kazakhstan region. Akims (mayors) of several cities of
Kazakhstan and members of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement, youth
organisations, and representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in the
country also participated.
Nursultan Nazarbayev sent a welcoming message to the participants of the
Conference, which was read out by Kanat Saudabayev, chair of the Commission on
Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) under the President and
the Director of the Nazarbayev Centre.
the first days of independence, Kazakhstan has consistently pursued a policy of
building a world free from the nuclear weapons. The closure of the Semipalatinsk
nuclear test site, the renunciation of the world’s fourth largest nuclear and
missile arsenal, and active promotion of the idea of a nuclear weapons free
world constitute a significant contribution of our state to the process of
nuclear disarmament,” the President’s message said.
consider nuclear safety as consisting of three integral components. It is not
only about the protection of humanity from nuclear weapons, but also about
counteracting potential nuclear terrorism and ensuring the safety of nuclear
energy. Kazakhstan shares and supports the noble goals of the international
organisation Mayors for Peace,” the Kazakh President stated as he pledged
stronger cooperation for giving an additional momentum to the process of global
his remarks to conference participants, Saudabayev outlined Kazakhstan’s
achievements in supporting the non-proliferation regime. He stressed the regime
must be further enhanced, while the number of WMDs reduced.
a steady decrease in the number of nuclear weapons, a total rejection of
horizontal and vertical proliferation by all members of the international
community, control over proliferation and non-discriminatory use of nuclear
energy and technology for peaceful purposes under the complete supervision of
the IAEA is the way ahead. There is no alternative,” Saudabayev said.
the closure of the nuclear test site on August 29, 1991, the East Kazakhstan
region, including Kurchatov, has undergone dramatic changes. In particular,
Kurchatov has begun to use its extensive scientific and technological potential
for peaceful purposes and progress.
to the conference, the participants visited the National Nuclear Centre, where
they were shown the thermonuclear material studying reactor Tokamak KTM and the
research and experimental facility EAGLE, all placed in Kurchatov. The
delegation also visited the Park of Nuclear Technologies.
a conference of a high level like this in the science town of Kurchatov, which
uses the atomic energy for peaceful purposes only, will be an important step in
promoting non-nuclear initiatives. Today, we can confidently say that we have
gone from a national tragedy to the national pride,” Governor of the East
Kazakhstan region Berdibek Saparbayev said at the conference.
present-day Kurchatov is engaged in the development of nuclear industry, also
addressing the issues of energy security and protection of public health and
environment,” Saparbayev said. “We plan to create a Centre for complex
dosimetry to conduct comprehensive analyses and to provide objective assessment
of the impact of the testing on the region’s population,” he said.
of Hiroshima and President of the Mayors for Peace Organisation Matsui Kazumi
also sent his welcoming message to the participants of the conference. The
address was read out by the Mayor of Belgian city of Ypres, Luc Dehaene.
is highly symbolic that several cities in Kazakhstan will join “Mayors for
Peace” during the special ceremony to be held at the epicenter of nuclear
testing,” Dehaene read.
believe that the time has come to learn from all the hibakusha [the surviving
victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki] what they experienced
and their desire for peace. Then, we must communicate what we learn to future
generations and to each and every person around the world,” Kazumi wrote in his
message. “Beyond doubt, the opening of a “Mayors for Peace” office in Semey
would enhance our joint efforts to achieve genuine global security.”
opening of the Mayors for Peace Office in Semey took place on March 16. In
addition, the European delegation held a ceremony of laying flowers to the
“Stronger than Death” monument, dedicated to the victims of Semipalatinsk
testing. Also, the memorial stone of Mayors for Peace, which unites 5,136
cities in 153 countries and regions, was unveiled on the same day. The events
took place at the Polkovnichiy Island in Semey, which
gathered several thousand people, mostly youth. Afterwards, the delegation
visited the Semey Medical University, the Institute of Radiation Medicine and
Ecology, and the Regional Oncology Clinic.
our Mayors for Peace delegation from Europe witnessed first-hand the intense
desire of the people of Semey, of Kazakhstan, of Central Asia, indeed of the
entire world for the elimination of the nuclear threat to humanity,” Luc
Dehaene said during the conference in Kurchatov.
the location of the Mayors for Peace commemoration stone so well symbolised and
the welcome from your youth so enthusiastically expressed, we feel we have been
taken into your hearts,” he said.
called upon the participants of the conference to continue to promote the unity
of purpose and “cooperate in good faith and with real dedication.”
must strive together to determine what each of us can contribute to this great
cause and how we can most effectively work in concert to realize it,” Luc
people of East Kazakhstan actively participate in all events promoting ideals of
peace and harmony. Speaking before the conference participants, the leader of a
regional youth association “Salauat” (Forgiveness) Bakhyt Toptayeva thanked the
delegation of the Mayors for Peace organization for the 2020 Vision Campaign to
eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020 globally and, in particular, for the “Cities
Are Not Targets” (CANT) project.
CANT Project collects signature petition forms from citizens around the world
demanding assurances from nuclear weapon states that no cities are targeted for
nuclear attack. The Salauat association shares the noble goals of this project,
and in support of it has collected 5,500 signed petitions from young people
around the region, Toptayeva said. Asking Luc Dehaene, who acts as a Chairman
of the 2020 Vision Campaign, to accept the collected signatures as East
Kazakhstan’s contribution to the CANT, Toptayeva said the number of signed
petitions is consistently growing, as young activists are actively engaged in
raising people’s awareness about the threat nuclear weapons pose to cities.
the conference, Luc Dehaene presented membership certificates to the mayors of
nine cities in Kazakhstan. The East Kazakhstan regional administration and the
Secretariat of Mayors for Peace signed a joint action plan.
Semey, the mayors of Semey and Ypres also signed a Memorandum on cooperation
and the establishment of twin city relations, since the cities experienced
similar tragic events in the past. During World War I, the city of Ypres saw
the first use of chemical weapons of mass destruction. Now it hosts the
Secretariat of the Mayors for Peace organisation.
and Semey have the full and moral right to be the leaders in the movement
against weapons of mass destruction. The tragic history of our cities and the
memory of our victims oblige us to do so,” Akim of Semey Aibek Karimov said at
the meeting with the European delegation.
its history, Semey sets an example for us in the struggle for a nuclear weapons
free world. We place great hopes on it in the international movement for
nuclear disarmament and in engaging the public, especially the youth,” Luc
Dehaene said after signing the Memorandum.
part of the programme, the European delegation also traveled to the city of
Ust-Kamenogorsk, the capital of East Kazakhstan, where they visited the
exhibition and information centre of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, Kazakhstan’s
flagship plant in uranium and tantalum production.