Baltic States – CIS, Belarus, Lithuania, Nuclear power plant

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 19.05.2019, 19:50

Nauseda says N-plant shouldn't completely overshadow Vilnius-Minsk relations

BC, Vilnius, 09.04.2019.Print version
Gitanas Nauseda, one of the three front-running Lithuanian presidential candidates, says relations between Vilnius and Minsk should not be completely overshadowed by the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction close to the border, reported LETA/BNS.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says Lithuania needs to improve its relations with Belarus to be able to install a monitoring system in the plant, and MP Ingrida, the third candidate, says she would not change the relationship between the two neighboring countries.  

  

Gitanas Nauseda, an economist standing as an independent in the May presidential election, said during a debate with the other two candidates on Monday evening that Belarus' independence from Russia should be Lithuania's key objective in relations with Minsk. 


"I don't see why our position on the Astravyets nuclear power plant should completely overshadow our relationship with Belarus, because I believe that our relations with Belarus should be based on the principle that we want our eastern neighbor to remain an independent state," the candidate said.


"There's no point in severing contacts. I believe we have to cooperate at the political, economic and all other levels," he added. 


Nauseda said he would not change Lithuania's position to block Belarus' agreements with the European Union until the Astravyets issue has been resolved. 


Skvernelis said Lithuania must seek to have "technical presence in that power plant" to be able to respond to nuclear incidents.  


"With our relations being what they are today, we won't build a monitoring system at Belarus' nuclear power facility," he said.   


Simonyte, the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats' candidate, said Lithuania has to continue barring market access for electricity from Astravyets and trying to convince other countries and the EU to do so. 


The lawmaker noted that Lithuania's relations with Belarus worsened not only because of the Astravyets project, but also because of the lack of democracy in the neighboring country.


Lithuanian authorities say the Astravyets plant under construction just 20 kilometers from the border fails to meet international safety standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.


The plant's first reactor is due to come online later this year, with the second reactor's launch scheduled for 2020.






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