Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the OECD Forum 2012 in Paris, Wednesday 23 May, 2012
(As prepared for delivery)
Deputy Minister Denisov, Mr Spasskyi, Your Excellency Ambassador Orlov,
Today the Russian Federation is formally invited to become the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s 31st member country. This is a major event for the NEA, the OECD and Russia.
There is no doubt that the accession by Russia to the NEA will be mutually beneficial.
The Russian Federation is a major nuclear power, with impressive capacities for both research and the construction of nuclear plants and facilities for the whole fuel cycle. Their human resources and expertise are the most valuable assets when it comes to nuclear energy.
NEA Member countries represent 85% of nuclear installed capacity-- with the addition of Russia, this percentage jumps to 90%. So, indeed, the NEA will have additional strength when it comes to both nuclear energy and safety standards.
It is all the more important in the post-Fukushima context: international cooperation needs to be enhanced to make sure that lessons learned are fully implemented and that “peer pressure” effectively reduces the risk of repeating past mistakes. Where else than in the NEA forums can experts meet and discuss topics in a non-politicised atmosphere, where experience is shared for the benefit of all?
For the NEA, it is the recognition of the quality of their work and outreach strategy. A number of key initiatives contributed to this reputation, notably the unique Multinational Design Evaluation Programme to harmonise safety requirements for new reactor designs. The 2010 international conferences on access to civil nuclear energy, and the one organised just after Fukushima have certainly demonstrated the relevance and reactivity of the Agency. It is always at the forefront of new challenges, attracting the interest of new and relevant players. Poland and Slovenia joined in 2010 and 2011, others might follow.
This relation between Russia and the NEA is not a new relationship. There has already been a long story of co-operation, starting in the mid-1990s and being significantly reinforced in 2007 with the conclusion of a joint declaration. Russia then became a regular observer in all NEA standing technical committees.
In fact, Russia and the NEA have had a longstanding relationship which is now becoming a full integration. It is a bit like a wedding after a long partnership.
We all know that this accession also bears a lot of significance for the OECD as a whole. First, because nuclear energy is important. I have stressed many times the role it plays in securing energy supply, limiting CO2 emissions and providing electricity at affordable prices.
Second, because NEA membership provides a strong political signal for OECD membership. Russia has made significant steps in this direction, notably with the ratification of the Anti-Bribery Convention and accession to the World Trade Organization.
Russian leaders have defined accession to the OECD as a high-level priority and a strategic goal, and we are working towards that end. Even if Acting Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov recently recognized the “immense amount of work” still required, concrete actions like this give its true meaning to the Russian commitment in several fields. We all look forward to the day when Russia will be fully part of the OECD family.
Again, welcome and thank you for your efforts and patience in the process. Let me also wish good luck to the Director-General of the NEA, Luis Echavarri. For him, this growth in size and importance comes with expectations and challenges that I am sure the NEA will meet with success. Thank you for your attention, I now pass the floor to First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mister Denisov.