INTERVIEW-Canada wants energy cooperation with Ukraine

By REUTERS

July 15, 2010 Updated Apr 25, 2009 at 7:01 AM CDT

* Canada's Governor-General discusses reactors in Ukraine
* Calls for continued international help on Chernobyl

By Ron Popeski

KIEV, April 25 (Reuters) - Canada's Governor General,
Michaelle Jean, called on Saturday for intensified energy
cooperation with Ukraine, including in the nuclear sphere, to
help it achieve energy self-sufficiency.

Jean, interviewed by Reuters during a state visit to
Ukraine, also said it was up to Canada and other industrialised
nations to help Ukraine find permanent solutions to the dire,
long-lasting consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Jean, titular head of state when Britain's Queen Elizabeth
is not in Canada, said much of her discussions with Ukraine's
leadership had focused on technological cooperation. That
included possible use of Canada's CANDU nuclear reactors and
ways to upgrade the ex-Soviet republic's gas transport system.

"It is clear that we are exploring ways to see what Canada
has to offer in terms of alternative energy technologies,
including the CANDU reactor it has developed," she said.

Ukraine's leaders were considering CANDU "very seriously".

"This could probably represent an interesting alternative as
it uses uranium -- a resource available to Ukraine.

"We are also trying to see how enriched uranium from old
reactors could be recycled ... and work towards energy
sufficiency, the independence that Ukraine wants to achieve and
sees as crucial."

Ukraine produces about half its power from a network of 15
nuclear reactors. Plans call for construction of at least two
new reactors, but these are to be based on a Russian design.

Ukraine imports about 80 percent of its energy from Russia,
including nuclear fuel, and its self-sufficiency came into focus
when Russian gas giant Gazprom cut off supplies for more than
two weeks in January.

Authorities in Kiev have since called on the European Union
to help finance upgrades to the gas transport system. About a
fifth of Europe's gas needs come from Russia via Ukraine. Moscow
says it wants to be part of any plan to modernise the network.

LESSONS OF CHERNOBYL

Jean said the Chernobyl disaster had shown the international
community was "limited in its capacity" to tackle emergencies.

Canada and other G7 countries, she said, "must not confine
our thinking solely to the urgent assistance that was needed
during the drama, but also realise that it's not yet over".

Work had to proceed on sealing off the "sarcophagus" erected
initially over Chernobyl's stricken fourth reactor, she said, as
well as proceeding with construction of a new structure.

The fire and explosion on April 26, 1986 at the Chernobyl
plant contaminated large stretches of Ukraine, Belarus and
Russia as well as sending radiation over most of Europe.

Tens of thousands were evacuated and Western countries
helped finance construction of a new "sarcophagus" due to be
completed in 2012 at a cost of more than 1 billion euros.

Jean's visit was given prominence because of the close links
between the two countries -- about 1.2 million of Canada's more
than 30 million residents are of Ukrainian origin and Canada was
the first Western country to recognise its independence in 1991.

In her comments, Jean said Ukraine needed time to make its
democracy work after four years of political turmoil since
pro-Western leaders came to power in the aftermath of the
"Orange Revolution" -- peaceful protests against election fraud.

"I think we often lose track of the notion of time and
expectations and demands are very, very high. It is as though
1991 was just yesterday," she said."

"We know the extent to which the Orange Revolution placed
civil society on a constant state of alert. People do not want
to see their dream of full, law-based democracy...taken away.

"What we can do is continue to support all the reforms
launched here to achieve a more solid...law-based state."

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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