TALLINN - According to the European Commission's compromise proposal to the Baltic states, which are currently engaged in a dispute over the purchase of electricity from Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group should conduct a supplementary assessment of the power plant's safety, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas told public broadcaster ERR.
Aas said that the Commission's proposal constitutes a recommendation to strengthen safety measures; however, buying electricity from third states is not off the table.
"The discussion currently focuses on the conditions under which this trade could continue. That means that the topics being discussed now involve nuclear safety, the safety of the Astravyets power plant and the conditions under which the trade in electricity could continue with third states upon the launch of the Astravyets plant," the minister said.
The dispute is mainly between Lithuania and Latvia, Aas said. Lithuania has laid down by law the non-purchase of electricity from the Astravyets nuclear plant near the Lithuanian-Belarusian border whereas the electricity consumed in the Baltics is bought through Latvia from the joint production area of Russia and Belarus.
"Estonia does not have any differences of opinion, all proposals are generally suitable for us. Naturally, Estonia's situation somewhat differs from that of Latvia and Lithuania. But I think this discussion is in a better place now because we also attach great importance to nuclear safety," Aas said.
"Both Lithuania and Latvia are to weigh the amended compromise proposal and make it known if this could be the place for an agreement. I hope this dispute will come to an end eventually, " the minister said, adding that the Commission's proposal had been amended on Tuesday.
Aas said that the 700-million-euro support earmarked by the European Union for the decoupling of the Baltic states from the Russian-Belarusian power network and its synchronization with the grid of Central Europe still stands.
"To date, the three Baltic states' policy regarding the trade of energy with third states has been uniform. Should we fail to reach an agreement, this situation where we act jointly will undoubtedly change," Aas said.
The minister expressed hope that an agreement will be reached at some point, however.