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2019.12.27 12:00

Demanding Belarus to stop nuclear plant 'too radical', says Lithuanian Foreign Minister

Jūratė Damulytė, BNS, LRT.lt2019.12.27 12:00

Lithuanian Foreign Minister says it's unrealistic and "too radical" to demand Belarus to stop operating its nuclear power plant once it comes online.

"It's too radical," the minister said, "if we demand not to operate the facility [...] after it comes online. At this stage, we want to raise realistic demands our allies would understand."

Lithuania considers the Astravyets NPP some 50 kilometres from Vilnius to be unsafe, an allegation that Minsk denies. Despite failing to convince all of its neighbours to block Belarus' nuclear energy from entering the shared grid, Lithuania has taken legal steps to outlaw energy imports from Astravyets.

Read more: Lithuania to suspend import licenses for traders of Belarus' nuclear energy

Europe's Green Deal included a clause following Lithuania's initiative that "facilities in third countries need to adhere to the highest international environmental and safety standards," which officials in Vilnius hope will stifle Belarus' nuclar exports.

Read more: EU's Green Deal to stifle Belarus' nuclear energy exports

The nuclear plant can no longer be built elsewhere, "despite the site being inappropriate, which we have said many times," Linkevičius told BNS. "We have to demand for institutions [to] monitor the final phases of the construction and demand complience with safety standards."

However, the minister said it's not too difficult to convince Lithuania's neighbours not to buy electricity from the Astravyets NPP.

"Our neighbour Poland has said very clearly that they won’t buy the [nuclear] electricity [...] and we have also adopted laws and have no plans to change them," Linkevičius said.

He also called attempts to forge closer pragmatic ties with Belarus a very good tactical change by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, as "we can achieve more benefits for our country [...] when talking to [Minsk]".

The minister said Lithuania should not simply accept the fact of Astravyets becoming operational, and seek ways for it to become redundant. The goal now is "to mitigate that possible damage, which is possible, if it starts working," said Linkevičius.