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2019.08.16 10:00

Latvia's decision to buy Belarusian electricity ‘regrettable’, Lithuanian president says

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2019.08.16 10:00

President Gitanas Nausėda says Latvia's decision to buy electricity generated by Belarus' Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is under construction close to the Lithuanian border, is “regrettable” but “not very surprising”.

The Latvian government decided to purchase Belarusian electricity without completing consultations with the Lithuanian Energy Ministry, according to Nausėda.

“The Latvian decision is a political decision. As far as I know, consultations with the Lithuanian Energy Ministry took place, but the decision was made before these consultations were completed, which is regrettable,” the Lithuanian president told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday evening.

“Was that very surprising? Probably not,” he added.

The Latvian government said earlier on Wednesday that it will purchase electricity directly from Belarus after Lithuania starts blocking power energy imports from the neighboring country.

Lithuania had expected that a boycott of electricity imports could bring the Astravyets project to a halt, but other countries in the region and EU bodies did not back the initiative.

According to the Latvian government, electricity trade with Belarus will be moved to the Latvian border once Lithuania suspends it.

Nausėda admitted on Wednesday that it was naïve to expect to make Belarus stop the Astravyets project solely by applying economic pressure.

“Let's be frank, it's a bit naïve (to expect) to halt a 90-percent built nuclear power plant by using only economic levers,” the president said.

“It had to be stopped in 2011-2012 when we were still signing communications on cooperation with Belarus in the field of nuclear energy,” Nausėda said. “I could show you the original communication.”

“Today, that ship has sailed. Nevertheless, (...) we ourselves shouldn't encourage such an unsustainable and unsafe project,” he added.

The Lithuanian government says 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, an allegation that Minsk denies.