Baltics close to compromise on Astravyets electricity imports, Lithuanian minister says

  • 2020-02-11
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The Baltic countries may in the coming weeks reach a common position on restricting electricity imports from Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plan, Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas said on Tuesday. 

"We are holding talks with Latvia and Estonia in an effort to draw up a plan for preventing electricity produced in Belarus from being imported into the Baltic countries," Vaiciunas told the Ziniu Radijas radio station. 

"Seeing the atmosphere and constructiveness as well as the European Commission's involvement, I believe we are going to have a really good compromise," he added. 

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis also said last week that the Baltic countries were moving closer to a joint decision not to buy electricity from the Astravyets plant. 

The three Baltic prime ministers discussed the development of the Baltic energy market at their meeting in Tallinn last Friday. 

The Latvian government said last August that electricity trade would be moved to the Latvian border once Lithuania halts imports from Belarus following the launch of the Astravyets plant.

Latvia's electricity transmission grid operator AST then told BNS that the decision was aimed at ensuring that trading between the Baltic countries and Russia remains possible.

Lithuania has already taken steps to block electricity imports from the nuclear facility which it says is being built in violation of safety requirements, an allegation that Minsk denies.

Vaiciunas said on Tuesday that it was necessary to prevent "the Astravyets card from being manipulated and the Baltic grids' synchronization (with the Continental European system) from being hampered." 

International exports are expected to visit Belarus next month, the minister said, adding that the nuclear power facility should not be launched before the stress test recommendations have been implemented. 

"To my knowledge, a visit by the European Commission, together with European nuclear regulators, to the plant is being planned for March to evaluate Belarus' action plan and look at how that plan would help ensure safety and how adequate it is," he said.