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2019.11.29 16:32

There's ‘growing understanding’ of Astravyets NPP problem among Baltics, Lithuania's Linkevičius says

BNS 2019.11.29 16:32

There is a growing understanding among the Baltic states that the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus is a problem, Lithuania's foreign minister said after his meeting with Latvian and Estonians lawmakers and foreign ministers in Riga on Friday.

“There's a growing understanding, as previously there was not even any wish to have an in-depth discussion on the matter, to be honest. Now it's clearly stated in the joint documents,” he told BNS by phone from Riga.

The Baltic Council's joint statement underlines that nuclear safety and environment protection in countries neighbouring the European Union are an indispensable part of the Community's foreign policy, Linkevičius said.

According to the Lithuanian foreign minister, there are calls for Belarus to update the action plan regarding the nuclear facility and take into account the test results and other recommendations.

“We hope for more interoperability in this area but, obviously, there's a growing understanding, definitely,” Linkevičius said.

He told politicians from the Baltic states that the EU's reaction to the Astravyets NPP would be a precedent for member states to respond to nuclear facility construction in their vicinity.

Since early 2016, Lithuania has been calling on EU member states to join its embargo of Belarusian electricity, but other Baltic states have not made the step yet. Experts acknowledge that electricity produced in Astravyets theoretically might enter the common market via Russia and Latvia.

Linkevčius said that, on Friday, he did not ask his Baltic counterparts not to buy Belarusian electricity after the launch of the Astratvyets facility.

The Belarusian authorities say the power plant could start operating in the first quarter of 2020 and they reject Lithuania's criticism over safety standards.

Read more: It's not a shoe factory, it's a nuclear plant in the centre of Europe – Lithuanian president on safety at Astravyets NPP

Read more: Germany supports Lithuania's 'pragmatic and realistic' attitude to Belarus' nuclear plant