Astravyets NPP may commence operations in August says Lithuanian minister

Astravyets NPP may commence operations in August says Lithuanian minister

The Belarusian Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) currently under construction not far from the Lithuanian border may commence operations as early as August 2020, Lithuania’s Foreign Affairs Minister LinasLinkevičius announced on Thursday, 11 June.

“We can expect it to commence operations in August,” he said during his meeting with Liberal Movement faction of Lithuanian Seimas.

According to the minister, Lithuania’s President GitanasNausėda will present this issue at the 19 June meeting of the Council of Europe. Lithuania considers this nuclear power plant unsafe and is committed to blocking the entry of the energy this power plant will produce to the market. Lithuania also wants to convince Latvia and Estonia to boycott it as well.

Both Latvia and Estonia support Lithuania’s efforts, but they don’t want to commit to boycotting Belarusian electricity produced at Astravyets NPP.

Latvia’s Prime Minister KrišjānisKariņš said he hopes to find a compromise in this issue, which he had discussed with his Estonian and Lithuania colleagues JüriRatas and SauliusSkvernelis during a video conference on Wednesday, 10 June.

As noted by representatives of the prime minister’s bureau, Baltic States have reached an agreement on the methodology to be applied for trade with third countries once Astravyets NPP in Belarus is commissioned and starts operations. When this happens, Lithuania plans to ban electricity trade with Belarus on a legislative level.

Lithuanian Energy Ministry’s developed Baltic States Agreement project has caused many discussions in the country lately. This agreement does not provide a commitment for Latvia and Estonia to not procure electricity from Astravyets NPP. Last week the Lithuanian government discussed this project, but no decision was made in the end. It is expected for European Commission to join the talks.

Opposition politicians in Lithuania’s Seimas and certain experts had previously said it is necessary to reach a more ambitious trilateral agreement in which all three countries agree in solidarity to no procure electricity from Belarus.

Linkevičius criticized the agreement project. He believes it does not meet Lithuania’s interests. The president’s bureau, on the other hand, supports it.

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