Landsbergis criticises Latvia: betraying Lithuania is a pit the Latvians will never escape

Vytautas Landsbergis
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Professor Vytautas Landsbergis is critical of the Baltic States’ agreement on Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant. What the Latvian foreign minister describes as a compromise, the first head of state of restored Lithuania describes as a Lithuanian capitulation. V. Landsbergis does not spare the Latvian government of pointed remarks for, according to the professor, a betrayal of Lithuania, Vilmantas Venckūnas writes in TV3.lt.

The Baltic States’ agreement on electrical power trade with third countries, which is of importance to Lithuania in regard to the electricity generated in Astravyets NPP, still awaits approval from our country’s parliament.

In the agreement, Latvia and Estonia express support for Lithuania’s aim of barring electricity generated in Astravyets from its market. However, the Baltic “sisters’” refusal to commit to not purchasing this electricity is facing criticism.

Latvia betrayed Lithuania?

“If Latvia joins hands with Russia and Russian aggression against Lithuania, there’s little that can be said about it,” V. Landsbergis spoke on the Latvian proposal to approve the agreement as a compromise.

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The professor told the tv3.lt news portal that such policy by the Latvians is an end to all talks of historical kinship of the Baltic States, particularly between Lithuania and Latvia.

“There’s no kinship here, everything is for sale,” V. Landsbergis said.

The first head of state of restored Lithuania mused on what benefits Latvia might receive for not supporting Lithuania’s aim of boycotting the electrical energy generated in Astravyets. V. Landsbergis believes that there are more important matters than one-time economic benefits.

“Betraying Lithuania is a pit the Latvians will never escape. It is a great evil. All else is smoke and mirrors,” the professor is convinced.

V. Landsbergis compared the compromise proposal with the proposals of Western states in 1990, offering the newly independent Lithuania to enter negotiations with the Soviet Union.

“Retract your Act of Independence, begin negotiations with Gorbachev from scratch. He promises to give you something, release you from the Soviet Union. We knew well that we cannot do so and that it is no compromise, but capitulation. […] I am hearing the same right now,” V. Landsbergis said.

According to him, Lithuania should not abandon its fundamental position and should act based on the so-called “anti-Astravyets” law, which has been passed by Seimas.

On Monday, Lithuania marked 80 years since the beginning of Soviet occupation. V. Landsbergis compares the scenario where Lithuania accepts the negotiated compromise agreement with the events of 1940.

“If Lithuania capitulates before Rosatom and Rosbel [the united Russian-Belarussian state], there’s nowhere to hide, we would be completely repeating the 80 year old capitulation to Stalin’s ultimatum. The Molotov-Ribbentrop zone… Great. And the Latvians are doing a favour to the permanent memory of Molotov-Ribbentrop,” V. Landsbergis told tv3.lt.

Linkevičius: unfortunately, there is no common position

While the Baltic States’ agreement lacks cabinet approval to come into power, not all Lithuanian ministers are satisfied with the achieved version.

In a summit of Baltic States and Polish ministers, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that there is a lack of unified agreement on Astravyets NPP.

“We must find common positions here and unfortunately they are lacking. We are in constant discussion on this,” L. Linkevičius spoke.

According to the minister, the negotiators continue discussing a combined Baltic States’ agreement on electrical power from Astravyets NPP. He states that the final goal is simple – to be as little dependent on electrical supplies from the East.

“A low price might be appealing, but sometimes the cheap price might turn into massively expensive political costs,” the Lithuanian foreign minister asserted,

“Solidarity works from both sides,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs states. He assures that the question of electrical power generated in Astravyets NPP has been discussed a number of times, there have been heated discussions between both the countries’ ministers and within the Latvian government itself. While in Lithuania the agreement between the Baltic States has been met with controversy, E. Rinkēvičs is of a different opinion.

“The current agreement is the best compromise reached by all sides,” the Latvian foreign minister said.

According to him, Latvia comprehends Lithuania’s position and concerns over Astravyets. E. Rinkēvičs claims that he has raised it a number of times in discussions with the Belarussian foreign minister, prime minister and President Alexander Lukashenko.

“We are all of the same opinion – we want to have only safe energy and we want the situation by our borders to be as safe as possible,” E. Rinkēvičs assured.

According to him, discussions and negotiations on an agreement between the Baltic States were difficult and the compromise that was achieved should be celebrated. E. Rinkēvičs says that the faster the Baltic States detach from Eastern electrical power networks and complete synchronisation with the West, the better. However, the minister notes that there is a need for a plan to handle the coming five years.

“I believe that we need to finally move forward with what was achieved by the ministers of energy during lengthy negotiations,” E. Rinkēvičs stated.

Latvian resistance

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are currently in a synchronous regime in the post-Soviet energy system, the so-called BRELL ring and are thus dependent on dispatchers in Moscow and the Russian electrical grid.

After lengthy arguments with one another, the Baltic States confirmed last year that they would connect to Western Europe through Poland. Lithuania has, however, been unable to convince neighbouring Latvia to commit to boycotting Astravyets NPP electricity while the synchronisation project is still ongoing.

The Latvian government says that with Lithuania terminating electricity trade with Belarus, due to technical and economic reasons it will shift to electricity trade with Russia. This could open the path for electricity generated in Astravyets to reach the Baltic States’ market through Russia.

The Baltic States’ agreement on electrical power trade with third countries has provoked significant discussions, with the cabinet having postponed approving it. In the agreement, Latvia and Estonia support Lithuania’s aim of barring entry for electricity generated in Astravyets NPP, but the agreement’s critics point to the two Baltic States’ unwillingness to commit to not purchasing this electricity themselves.

There are murmurs that the electricity entering Latvia and Estonia would eventually reach Lithuania anyway. The agreement outlines that the new procedures would apply from the launch of Astravyets NPP and be in power up to 2025, when the Baltic States would join the Western European power grid.

Negotiations on this agreement have been ongoing for several years now and Lithuania has sought to convince its neighbours that they would all not purchase electricity from Astravyets. Latvia, however, has been resisting this.

The agreement presented before the cabinet features Latvian and Estonian support of Lithuania’s decision to not purchase electrical power from Belarus. It also indicates the aim of creating safeguards, which are expected to ensure that electricity generated in Astravyets will not reach Lithuania, thus upholding the so-called “anti-Astravyets” law passed by Seimas.

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