Ukraine wants to propose Chernobyl as a UNESCO site

Ukraine wants to propose Chernobyl as a UNESCO site

The new Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandre Tkatchenko is preparing a proposal to be submitted to UNESCO to recognize the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as a cultural heritage of humanity

(photo: Getty Images) new Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandre Tkatchenko, in office for six months, has proposed to classify the Chernobyl site, the scene of the worst nuclear disaster in history, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is to prevent the Chernobyl exclusion zone from being damaged by weather conditions and by the large influx of tourists that it has been experiencing for some time now. "It is one of the most emblematic territories of Ukraine" and must be "preserved for humanity", underlined Tkatchenko.

The expansion of tourism

Such a recognition from part of the UN cultural heritage agency could help the Ukrainian government to further develop tourism activity on the site and to preserve the integrity of its buildings. "The Chernobyl area is already a famous attraction all over the world, tourists already come to Ukraine for this. Unfortunately, this place does not have an official status: if it were to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site it would be only positive ", explained to Euronews Maksym Polivko, tourist guide in the exclusion zone.

Browse gallery In fact, during 2019 , Chernobyl has reached a new visitor record, especially after the release of the successful miniseries of the same name signed by Hbo: about 124,000 tourists, of which at least 100,000 foreigners, visited the site. In 2018, there were 72,000 tourists.

What does the exclusion zone mean?

This term refers to the portion of territory, roughly the size of Luxembourg, that surrounds the Chernobyl nuclear power plant for 30 kilometers after the explosion of the reactor 4 at the end of April 1986. In addition to the still dangerous site, the disaster left entire areas of Ukraine and neighboring Belarus severely contaminated by radiation.

Browse gallery For this reason, Minister Tkachenko insists on the need to make visitors to Chernobyl understand that this is not a "simple adventure in forbidden territory". With the help of experts, the Ministry of Culture wants to prepare travel programs aimed at "perceiving the territory as a place of memory that should teach us things", especially today that we find ourselves in the midst of a global environmental crisis.

Ukraine is preparing a dossier with the proposal to be presented to Unesco by the end of March 2021 and a group of UN experts should therefore visit the nuclear site next summer. The final decision is expected no earlier than 2023.

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