Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said the Belarusian nuclear plant is here to stay, and the country should focus on pressing Minsk to implement safety requirements.
"We probably can’t afford having illusions that the nuclear power plant will be built elsewhere or even razed to the ground," he said in an interview published by 15min.lt on Thursday.
"This had to be done 11-12 years ago. Unfortunately, we did nothing," he added.
Read more: Lithuania turns to IAEA in protest against Belarusian nuclear plant
According to Nauseda, Lithuania will insist on the implementation by Minsk of the EU's safety recommendations, but, at the same time, it is ready to help Belarus to secure alternative oil and gas supplies.
Amid disputes with Moscow over tariffs, Belarus has imported a number of oil shipments via Lithuania’s port of Klaipėda.
Read more: Lithuania nudges Belarus out of Russia's energy grip
“Belarus needs it to resist Russia’s sometimes open, sometimes subtle, energy blackmail,” He said. “For us, it’s useful for our neighbour to become somewhat resistant to Russian pressure [...] besides even talking about the economic benefits.”
“It would be foolish not to use these possibilities,” he said. “We understand clearly the rules of the game, and [Belarus] also understands clearly our motives, and then we can continue maintaining dialogue.”
Lithuania says the Astravyets plant, which is located some 50 kilometers from Vilnius, fails to meet international safety and environmental standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.
Vilnius is also asking the Baltic states and other neighbouring countries to bar electricity imports from Belarus once the plant becomes operational.
Read more: Lithuania hopes for Latvia’s support against Belarus’ nuclear plant