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2019.09.18 09:00

Baltic unity on Belarus' nuclear issue difficult, but Lithuania will maintain course – FM Linkevičius

BNS 2019.09.18 09:00

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says although it's difficult to forge a united Baltic position on Belarus' nuclear energy boycott, Lithuania will not change its laws barring energy imports from Belarus once the nuclear plant starts operating.

"We certainly have no intentions to change the laws passed in Seimas on the non-purchase of electricity and [its] importance to our national security," Linkevicius told the Žinių Radijas radio on Tuesday.

According to the minister, it is difficult to forge a united position among the Baltic countries to boycott Astravyets electricity for a variety of reasons.

"[There are] economic interests [and] certain national specificities. Various factors influence politics. This is not an excuse, but rather an explanation," said Linekvičius. "We highly appreciate statements by our Polish neighbors that they will not purchase [Belarusian] electricity".

"It should be noted that the Latvian prime minister has also made it very clear that they do not intend to buy electricity from Belarus," he added.

In August, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis received assurances from his Latvian counterpart, Krisjanis Karins, that his country hasn't made a decision to buy electricity specifically from the Astravyets nuclear plant.

The Latvian government said earlier in August that electricity trade would be moved to the Latvian border once Lithuania halted imports from Belarus.

Latvia's electricity transmission grid operator AST told BNS that the decision was aimed at ensuring that trading between the Baltic countries and Russia remained possible.

The Latvian Economy Ministry told BNS that there were economic factors behind the decision, too, but added that his country did not plan to trade with third countries once the Baltic countries synchronized their grids with the Continental European system in 2020.

Lithuanian officials are concerned that Latvia's decisions will open up access to the common market for electricity generated by the Astravyets plant.

The Lithuanian government seeks to block electricity imports from the nuclear facility which it says is being built in violation of safety requirements, an allegation that Minsk denies.