Lithuania’s major parties come together to oppose Belarus nuclear plant

Astravyets NPP reactor
Astravo AE archyvo nuotr.

Politicians representing nearly all the parliamentary parties and a range of energy experts agreed at a Monday meeting that the country’s major parties will work out an agreement on a unified approach to the threat posed by this nuclear facility to Lithuania, according to BNS.

However, the government coalition and opposition parties diverge on what the tone of the agreement should be. Conservatives believe that Lithuania should take a hard-line approach whereas the ruling Social Democrats and the Order and Justice party say this will not bring any change.

“We have to send a signal very clearly that the restriction of both physical and commercial flows will be very stringent. What we can do directly is to show to the Belarusians, Rosatom [Russia’s nuclear energy corporation building the nuclear power plant in Astravyets] and Putin that the economic plan of this power plant may be totally different from what they’ve calculated, that we’ll do everything possible to make sure that electricity from that facility does not get into the Lithuanian system, that it’s not traded and therefore they don’t earn money from that,” said parliamentary opposition leader Andrius Kubilius of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Meanwhile, MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis, the conservatives’ leader, believes that Lithuania could work for the suspension of financing of the nuclear facility in Astravyets.

“Russia’s access to financial markets is severely complicated, loans are very, very expensive. This means that any jolt or any increase in the risks of the project will most probably lead to the suspension of financing. The thing is that we can suspend financing of this project and I think this should be our goal,” Landsbergis said.

Meanwhile, Social Democratic MP Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the parliamentary European Affairs Committee, thinks that such measures are too late.

“Such measures definitely won’t make it possible for us to put a stop to the construction of that power plant. That time is gone already. In my view, now we can only mitigate the consequences,” he said.

Kirkilas does not think that Lithuania should speak in “a strict and categorical voice”. “It’s not just Astravyets. It’s also relations with Belarus, transit via Lithuania, the port of Klaipėda.”

Petras Gražulis, elder of Order and Justice party’s parliamentary group, agrees that Lithuania should now demand assurance of safety of the nuclear power plant in Astravyets, instead of making threats of “shutting down the transmission lines”.

He said that Lithuania will turn Belarus “into an enemy instead of an ally” if it resorts to threats over the Astravyets nuclear power plant.
“It would harm our country,” he said.

Kirkilas said that the Labour party, the Order and Justice party and the Social Democrats might agree on a draft interparty agreement as early as this week.

Lithuania has repeatedly criticized Belarus, saying it does not abide by nuclear safety rules. The nuclear facility is being built near the town of Astravyets, which is only 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Minsk has rejected the criticism, saying that it will ensure the highest safety standards at the nuclear power plant.

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