2020.06.19 16:56

‘We're not where we want to be’. EC president vows to continue discussions on Belarus NPP

BNS2020.06.19 16:56

The European Commission will continue discussions with Belarus about safety of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, EC President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

Talking after a video conference with Eastern Partnership country leaders, von der Leyen said that the EU had yet to reach a satisfactory agreement on the nuclear plant that has been harshly criticised by Lithuania.

Read more: 'No common ground' in Baltics, as Latvia fails to back Lithuania over Belarusian nuclear plant

Vilnius insists that the nuclear facility, to be launched in August only some 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital, fails to meet international safety standards. It has been seeking to secure the EU's backing.

“The topic of the Astravyets nuclear power plant was raised [during the Eastern Partnership conference],” von der Leyen commented on Friday.

“Nuclear safety is of very high priority for us and as Belarus is a direct neighbour, it must ensure the highest possible safety standards,” the EC president said, adding that discussions had made some progress, but the desired result had not been achieved yet.

“We are in contact with the Belarusian authorities. And indeed you know that a request was there, that there is a need to implement the expert recommendation," she said.

"So today Belarus said that they are ready to have a peer review on the stress-test and that in the fall a high level conference should take place on this subject. So this is a step forward, certainly not the end of the discussions and we are not at the point where we want to be,” von der Leyen added.

Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said that Minsk was ready to review its national action plan in line with the results of the NNP's stress-tests, Russian news agency Interfax has reported.

“We are ready for constructive cooperation with the European Union in this area. Belarus has nothing to hide,” Golovchenko said after a video conference with the leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries. “We informed our European partners that we are in principle ready to review the national action plan based on the nuclear facility's stress-tests.”

The stress-tests at the Astravyets nuclear power plants were carried out by Atomprojekt, a subsidiary of the power plant's main contractor Rosatom, in 2016.

A panel of international experts, set up by the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), found a number of drawbacks in the project in 2018.

Lithuania is the biggest critic of the nuclear project and has vowed to block Belarusian electricity's entry to its energy market. Minsk rejects Vilnius' criticism that the nuclear facility fails to meet international safety standards.

Read more: Lithuania hands out iodine pills ahead of Astravyets NPP launch

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