2019.10.01 13:00

Lithuanian president backs foreign minister against opposition attacks over Belarus NPP inaction

Jūratė Skėrytė, BNS 2019.10.01 13:00

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has expressed support for Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius whom the opposition has accused of insufficient efforts in opposing Belarus' Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant.

Nausėda said in a statement on Monday that the minister properly represented Lithuania's national interests in seeking a broader dialogue with Minsk.

The conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) party has said recently that the almost completed nuclear power plant is “gradually legitimized in Lithuania by its official foreign policy makers and executors”.

According to the opposition party, Linkevičius has done too little to prevent the unsafe nuclear facility from being built close to the Lithuanian border and, therefore, should step down.

In his statement, Nausėda has reiterated that the Astravyets plant does not meet international standards and poses a threat to Lithuania's national security.

“We call on Belarus to immediately implement the nuclear safety standards set by international experts for the Astravyets NPP,” he said.

Nausėda has insisted that all national, regional and EU-level capabilities must be mobilized to force Minsk to observe the principles of openness and transparency when implementing the project.

He has added, however, that Lithuania risks not being able to use these levers effectively if it continues to avoid any cooperation with Belarus.

According to the president, Lithuania is raising the Astravyets NPP safety issue in all bilateral meetings with leaders of EU member states and in EU institutions.

The Lithuanian government insists the Astravyets plant under construction some 50 kilometers from Vilnius and less than 30 kilometers from the Lithuanian border fails to meet international safety and environmental standards. Minsk has rejected all criticism of the project.