Dear friends and colleagues,
Thank you for joining me for this New Year´s reception. I hope you are all feeling refreshed after the holiday break and are ready for another busy year.
One of my priorities during my first year in office was to further improve communication between the Secretariat and you, the Member States. I believe we have made some progress, but I will continue my efforts in this regard.
In terms of our substantive work, 2010 was a productive year for the Agency.
I will mention just a few of the highlights, starting with our special focus on cancer. I believe we succeeded in raising awareness of the problems of cancer in developing countries to a higher political level. Our cooperation with the World Health Organization was strengthened and donations to our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy are running at record levels.
Major progress was made in the refurbishing of our laboratories in Seibersdorf. I expect the new Clean Laboratory to be operational in the first half of this year. The number of countries with additional protocols in force has risen to 103. I hope that trend will continue this year.
The Agency´s efforts to assist Member States interested in introducing nuclear power continued to bear fruit last year. The progress made in a number of developing countries strengthens my conviction that nuclear power should not be limited to developed countries.
The low enriched uranium reserve at Angarsk became operational, one year after the Board of Governors approved a proposal by the Russian Federation to create it. Last month, the Board authorized me to establish an IAEA LEU bank to ensure supply of nuclear fuel to Member States.
In the nuclear security area, more than 8,000 highly radioactive nuclear fuel elements from the Vinca Institute in Serbia were repatriated to the Russian Federation. This complex operation, coordinated by the Agency, was a great success.
Let me turn now to the coming year.
As far as the main nuclear verification issues on the agenda of the Agency are concerned, the situations concerning the DPRK, Iran and Syria continue to draw special attention. But I hope that recent moves towards dialogue may make it possible to achieve progress this year.
The 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in April will provide an opportunity to remind the world of the enormous progress that has been made in nuclear safety since 1986. It should also serve as a reminder to all of us that we can never be complacent when it comes to safety.
This year we will strengthen our efforts in both nuclear safety and security, which are priority areas for the Agency.
Next month, I will submit my proposal for the Programme and Budget for 2012-2013, taking into account the Medium-Term Strategy agreed by you. I recognize the economic difficulties which many Member States face, but I nevertheless count on the understanding and cooperation of all of you during the budget deliberations. It is important that the Agency is able to continue to fulfill the mandate which you have given us.
I look forward to Member States agreeing on the Technical Cooperation Fund target figures for 2012/2013. An effective technical cooperation programme remains a high priority for me personally, and for the Agency.
AIPS, our new enterprise resource planning system, and the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) are being introduced this month. This is a mammoth undertaking for the Agency and some teething troubles are inevitable during the transition period, for which I ask for your understanding.
I am grateful to all the staff concerned and I am confident that AIPS and IPSAS will significantly increase efficiency and transparency.
Within the Secretariat, an almost completely new top management team is now in place to help us meet the challenges which we face in all areas of our work.
I would like to introduce them to you:
Mr. Alexander Bychkov, the new Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, will join us shortly.
And you all know Mr. David Waller, Deputy Director General for Management, who will remain in place to assist me in various management matters, including those relating to the Agency's Programme and Budget, and to ensure the smooth introduction of AIPS and IPSAS.
As part of my continuing efforts to improve the management of the Agency, I am considering a restructuring of the work of my own office and of EXPO in the near future.
My aims are to strengthen the policy and strategic planning function in the Agency, improve coordination and eliminate duplication in order to further improve the services we deliver to Member States. Primary responsibility for policy and management will remain with me and I will be assisted in this by my Chef de Cabinet - my right hand, so to speak.
I also plan to give priority this year to the issue of nuclear techniques for water. This reflects the steady growth which we are seeing in Member State interest in the use of nuclear techniques for water resource assessment and management, agricultural water use, and protecting the aquatic environment.
We will highlight our efforts in this field as we mark the 50th anniversary of the laboratories in Monaco on March 27. I intend to invite you all to Monaco for this occasion. Nuclear techniques for water will also be the theme of the Scientific Forum in September.
Of course, this does not mean that we will neglect other areas of our work. In particular, I aim to continue to build on the progress made in the field of cancer control last year.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by thanking you for the support which you have given me as Director General. I look forward to working closely with all of you this year and I wish you every success in your work. Thank you.