2019.05.03 16:50

Lithuania turns to EU Commission over Minsk's 'irresponsible approach' to nuclear safety

BNS 2019.05.03 16:50

The Lithuanian government approached the European Commission on Friday over what it says is Belarus' irresponsible approach to nuclear safety and violation of international commitments regarding Astravyets nuclear power plant.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas sent a joint letter to European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini, and the commissioners for energy, environment and enlargement.

In the letter, the Lithuanian ministers point out “the latest steps taken by Belarus to avoid cooperation with the European Union on environmental and nuclear safety issues”, Minsk's “irresponsible approach” to safety, and its “failure to comply with international obligations related to Astravyets NPP”, the ministry said in a press release.

“Lithuania will not put up with the unsafe nuclear project in the EU’s neighborhood. Despite the EU’s repeated calls on Belarus to address the faults that have been identified during stress tests, Belarus continues to prioritize the construction schedule over nuclear safety,“ Linkevičius was quoted in the press release.

“Over the 10 months since we submitted these findings, we only saw Belarusian attempts to negotiate safety enhancement of the Astravyets NPP selectively,” the foreign minister said.

“This letter is a message to the European Union's officials that an urgent action is needed to protect safety of the entire EU. We've proposed that the European Commission should take the lead and develop a comprehensive action plan for the next steps by the EU with regard to Astravyets,” he added.

Lithuania's authorities insist the the Astravyets plant, under construction just 50 kilometres from Vilnius, fails to meet international safety standards. Minsk disputes the allegation.

In June 2017, the Lithuanian parliament passed a declaration that the Astravyets plant was a threat to national security, environment, and public health. The government later approved an action plan for blocking electricity imports from the plant.

In a meeting in Geneva in February, the parties to the Espoo Convention concluded that the choice of the Astravyets construction site violated the convention.