Talks on the Belarusian nuclear plant and other business

  • 2010-05-05
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - On April 30, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky arrived in Vilnius to meet his Lithuanian counterpart, Andrius Kubilius. One of the main issues to discuss was the Belarusian plan to build a nuclear plant near the Belarusian town of Ostrovets. The Belarusian power station, which probably will be equipped with Russian-made reactors, is expected to start work in 2016. The Belarusian plant will be situated 20 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and 55 kilometers from Vilnius. In case of some accident in the plant, Vilnius would have to be evacuated. Earlier, the Belarusian plant’s construction provoked protests from former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus who, from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, worked at the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and is highly concerned about the environmental issues. The Lithuanian and Belarusian environmentalists also protested against the construction of the plant.

Sidorsky, speaking near the doors of Narutis Hotel in Vilnius in a joint conference with Kubilius, tried to disperse fears of the environmentalists. “We suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 more than any other country and the safety of our nuclear plant is our main condition for potential competitors seeking to build the plant,” Sidorsky said, promising to consult with Lithuania on its environmental aspects.

“We can help with advice on creation of a regulatory institution to supervise the Belarusian nuclear plant. It is more difficult to create such an institution than to construct the plant itself,” Kubilius said.
Recently, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about supplies of Venezuela’s oil to Belarus. Such a deal slightly reduces Belarusian dependence from Russian supplies. Both prime ministers discussed the possibility to transport such oil via the Klaipeda oil terminal, though Belarus is considering Ukraine’s ports for such imports as well. “It is possible, technically, to receive Venezuelan oil and later pump it to tank-cars,” Kubilius said about a possible railway route via Lithuania.

Sidorsky also said that Belarus would be interested in taking part in construction of a terminal for liquefied gas in Klaipeda. Both sides also spoke positively about the idea of building a Vilnius-Minsk high-speed railway route with possible EU co-financing. Sidorsky urged Lithuanian companies, which are exporting food to Russia, to use transit routes via Belarus, not Latvia, promising to improve the slow work of Belarusian customs’ officials.