Lithuanian efforts to come to agreement with Latvia viewed with reserve by political scientists

Presidents of Lithuania (Nausėda) and Latvia Levits. Photo Presidential Palace of Lithuania
Presidents of Lithuania (Nausėda) and Latvia (Levits). Photo Presidential Palace of Lithuania

Actively engaged in foreign policy, President Gitanas Nausėda was confronted with the reality of Prime Minister S. Skvernelis’ words from half a year ago that the Latvians are not our brothers, but our competitors. Even after two hours of discussion, the Latvians’ positions were unchanged – they remain intent on purchasing electrical power from Astravyets and will create a maritime border over four years, Karolis Klinka writes in TV3.lt

The meeting between Latvian President Egils Levits and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda began in the Daukantas Square palace. The two heads of state shake hands, the Latvian president leaves behind several sentences in the guest book and together with G. Nausėda takes a seat at the table.

Perhaps friendly, but the conversation ends with nothing after two hours – the presidents say that the questions of Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant and the power it generates were the main focus, but they could not reach an agreement.

“We are talking about an unsafe nuclear power plant. We are talking about signs that indicate that the Astravyets plant is unsafe,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says.

“Vilnius is 50 kilometres away, Daugpils is 110 kilometres away, thus there is little difference in this case and the Latvian government is carefully monitoring that security matters would be adhered to. The common position on Astravyets NPP is heated by disagreements on its electricity. This is where the friendly moods end,” Latvian President Egils Levits says.

Patreon the Lithuania Tribune

Both countries agree that by 2025, the Baltic States’ power networks should be disconnected from the post-Soviet system and synchronised with Western Europe. However, while work proceeds, unlike Lithuania, Latvia is not refusing Belarussian power, with the Latvians planning to purchase electrical power from Russia, meaning also purchasing power from Astravyets.

“There are differences of opinion. A law has been passed in Lithuania, in Latvia we do not have such a law of how to avoid electrical power from Astravyets,” E. Levits believes.

“The question of Astravyets NPP is certainly painful. We view the diverging positions on this matter as an obstacle to enacting the synchronisation project. We will stand by our policies and will provide all post-legislative acts, which would prevent the entry of Belarussian electrical power into the Lithuanian market. The presidents were also unable to agree on anything in regard to an old dispute either – the maritime border. The Latvian parliament has for twenty years now been unable to ratify a Lithuanian-Latvian agreement on the maritime border and maritime economic zone that was signed in 1999,” G. Nausėda said.

In this regard, energy issues are an obstacle once more – there are predictions that the border territories could contain oil reserves.

G. Nausėda says that the question is so difficult that if it can be resolved within four years, that will be good: “I and the President have an ambitious goal – to achieve that by the end of our terms, this question would be resolved.”

“The result should be that each of the countries is satisfied by 50 per cent. This is because neither country will be 100 per cent satisfied and this would be just,” E. Levits said.

Political scientists are reserved regarding such efforts to come to an agreement with the Latvian president, particularly in regard to Belarussian electricity.

“It is likely not the Latvian president that will decide on it. His remit in this area is small. Nevertheless, it is especially important to negotiate positions on this question. And convince that energy security, pricing questions can be arranged together, particularly understanding that the problem of Astravyets NPP is particularly acute for Lithuania. We simply need to talk more,” political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas said.

Lithuania’s struggle with Astravyets NPP electrical power faced another blow as well, this time from the Estonians. Their European commissioner candidate declared that in order to protect Vilnius from the nuclear threat from Astravyets, the plant shouldn’t be closed, but instead granted financial support from the EU.

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