Dr Zdenko FRANIÆ to the
by Deputy Minister of Science and Technology to the
46th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency
At the outset, allow me to express my congratulations to you, Mr. President, on the election to these important posts. I am convinced that your guidance will contribute significally to the successful outcome of this Forty Sixth Session of the General Conference and to assure you of the full support of the Republic of Croatia in that respect.
Let me take this opportunity to warmly welcome the State of Eritrea, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Seychelles as new members of the Agency. We are happy to witness the continuous enlargement of the IAEA membership as another strong evidence of the importance of the Agency's activities to the overall world community.
Recognizing the importance of the IAEA, the Republic of Croatia has always utilized the peaceful use of nuclear energy and implemented relevant activities in this field in full compliance with the Agency's activities and goals.
Furthermore, the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the Republic of Croatia and European Union signed in October last year is giving new impetus to mutual cooperation and is fostering harmonization of Croatian legislation with EU standards. Therefore, sharing common values with the European countries, Croatia supports the statement to the IAEA General Conference delivered by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Denmark on behalf of the European Union and the associated countries.
Being fully devoted to the successful work of the IAEA, Croatia was also one of the first countries where the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards with the Agency entered into force, as well as one of the first ten countries that completed the internal legal procedure for the acceptance of the amendment of the Article VI consequently. The Board of Governors recognized Croatia's full compliance with all of its obligations and requests. Having in mind importance of the amended Article VI, Croatia is inviting all other member states that have not yet ratified it, to accelerate their internal procedures in order to enable its early entry into force.
Being aware of the importance of the financial contributions for the IAEA abilities to meet requests and needs, and aiming to provide the maximum support to its work, I am happy to inform that Croatia, as before, has paid all of its contributions to the Agency in full and on time.
Common interests and values in the fields of nuclear and radiation safety, safeguards and technical co-operation, the three major pillars, were naturally the fertile ground for close cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the Agency that exists today. This past spring Croatia has signed the "Country Program Framework" which proved to be a very useful manual for project planning and, according to our evaluation, good tool to enable countries to be aware of the long-term cooperation guidelines.
A wide range of concluded projects in Croatia within the framework of the technical co-operation made their positive impact on the various fields of peaceful use of nuclear energy by improving outcome and safety. I have to mention here one unique project currently underway, that is, "Examining the usage of nuclear technology in the land-mines detection field". The possible positive results of this project would contribute strongly to de-mining process worldwide. For the next biennium (2003-2004) Croatia has proposed six projects, formulated entirely in accordance with the mainstream orientation of the Technical Co-operation Programme. These projects are contributing to the peaceful use of nuclear technologies as well as widening and strengthening the infrastructure for nuclear and radiological safety. Projects include also those within the very important field of the fight against illegal use and illicit trafficking of nuclear material.
Besides the technical co-operation projects, various meetings end experts' visits took place or were planned since the last session of the General Conference. The cooperation within the framework of the Agency's Technical Co-operation Programme, involving Croatian research institutes and other relevant institutions, as well as Croatian universities, is running intensively and successfully. While many Croatian experts are attending seminars and training courses abroad, Croatia is at the same time the Agency's partner in the implementation of the technical cooperation, serving as the host country for foreign candidates who were granted fellowships. Pleased with the positive impressions from the guest experts, we are inviting the Agency to use Croatia's capacities for this purpose to a larger extent.
Having said that, I am taking this opportunity to express our appreciation for the extensive cooperation assistance of the Agency enabling various projects to be implemented, but also to extend special thanks to the relevant IAEA representatives and officers for facilitating such cooperation.
Croatia intends to bring more attention to the education in the field of nuclear sciences and management of nuclear knowledge as a whole, in order to facilitate stronger expert base for the relevant applications in the future, but also to foster positive public interest to these issues. Being nuclear physicist myself, I have yet another reason more to help these initiatives come to life.
It is well known that the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia built the Nuclear Power Plant Krko at the end of 70's as a joint venture on the territory of Slovenia, thus sharing its ownership on an equal basis. After years-long disputes over the exploitation of Krko NPP, problem that raised from the new circumstances of independence of both countries, Croatia is happy to announce that in December 2001 the two states signed the "Agreement on the Regulation of Status and Other Legal Relations in Connection to Investment, Operating and Decommissioning of Krko Nuclear Power Plant". Croatia has ratified this Agreement but, unfortunately, the ratification of this Agreement in Slovenia is still pending. Due to the fact that this agreement has direct positive implications for the safety - issue that should be always in the first place - we are urging to Slovenia to ratify the Agreement at the earliest convenience.
I would like once again to stress the importance Croatia pays to the activities and goals of the IAEA and its full commitment to the co-operation with the Agency and the other member states to benefit the peaceful and secure use of the nuclear energy.