We did not stop the building of the first block of the Astravyets nuclear power plant since we were arguing over who was guiltier instead of actually doing something about it. Maybe we could stop the construction of the second block, but for that, we should also do something, not just use empty words, Tomas Dapkus wrote in lrytas.lt
With a 2017 law, we committed not to buy electricity from Astravyets nuclear power plant and to join the Western electricity network in 2020. Then suddenly we rearranged with Brussels that we would do this until 2025.
We are stuck in the same place with Astravyets nuclear power plant so long as we keep the option to fund the debts of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko to Russia and build the second nuclear power plant block.
After so many years of inaction and the inability to reach an agreement with the Latvians and Estonians, this delay is more akin to a thoroughly planned reaction of A. Lukashenko and the Kremlin reaction. How is the new President G. Nausėda going to react to this?
As a professor of economics Raimondas Kuodis says, this Belarusian project “economically is nonsense,” so limiting the export of electricity to countries of the European Union would be a serious blow to the Belarusian economics and its nuclear energetics. A. Lukashenko states that electricity will not get cheaper and will require significant investments if the surplus of electricity would be used for the local market.
Ten years saga
For ten years President Dalia Grybauskaitė and for seven years Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius had the opportunity to isolate the NPP project and to agree on a common position for all EU countries.
Not once was there a suggestion to add this problem to the highest agenda of the EU. Nothing. We only heard militant rhetoric – “EU countries do not understand what Lithuania wants until now.” “The view towards Astravyets did not change,” says L. Linkevičius. And what should we do with that, what is the benefit to us from this unchanging view of the Minister?
As it turned out in a session of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee this week, the mandate given from D. Grybauskaitė to L. Linkevičius in negotiations with the EU was limited only to exercising stress tests from the Belarusian side. Only this, and now conversations about a common position not to buy electricity.
The Astravyets nuclear plant stands on a side of a tectonic fracture and it, in general, cannot be safer than the Fukushima or Chernobyl nuclear power plants. Stress tests are only an illusion of safety being created for us, which the minister is failing to accomplish.
Today the problems of not purchasing electricity and the lack of a common EU position stand in front of President G. Nausėda. It appears that he understands and has put it into clear words: “we aim to protect ourselves on the EU level from a third-party, unsafe nuclear power plant which creates danger, while at the same time making sure that the energy that is produced there is not purchased.”
L. Linkevičius has been given a very binding mandate, yet one can still doubt if anything will change after so many years of empty verbal diplomacy. The impulsive wish of L. Linkevičius to save Belarusian leader A. Lukashenka from Russian President Vladimir Putin (while saying that until now nobody did that) also looks weird.
Thus, one could wonder who, if not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, should have been doing that for seven years. Did D. Grybauskaitė not allow this? If you have convictions, you could do more than that, even give up your own political party for your post.
The first block of the Astravyets nuclear plant is the most important foreign policy monument of D. Grybauskaitė and L. Linkevičius.
President G. Nausėda, who again chose L. Linkevičius as a Minister and his Policy Director, Asta Skaisgirytė as his Advisor of Foreign Affairs (symbols of the old, useless politics), is risking that his plan for a common EU position will not be implemented and the second Astravyets block will rise.
We can only hope that President G. Nausėda, along with L. Linkevičius, will be more successful than his forerunner, D. Grybauskaitė.