Lithuanian president calls on European Council head to take action on Belarus' N-plant

  • 2020-07-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called on European Council President Charles Michel to get personally involved in the problem of safety of Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant. 

In his letter, Nauseda also drew Michel's attention to the human rights situation in Belarus, the president's office said on Monday. 

"I am asking for your personal involvement at the highest political level and for immediate action to protect the safety and well-being of EU citizens," he wrote.

According to Nauseda, Belarus, together with Russia, ignores concerns by the European Commission, EU member states and experts from the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) over a lack of transparency in the Astravyets project and numerous violations of nuclear safety standards. 

Nuclear fuel has already been delivered to the Astravyets plant, located about 50 kilometers from Vilnius and less than 30 kilometers from the Lithuanian border, and preparations are underway for its planned launch in August. 

Lithuania is grateful to the European Commission for its efforts to ensure the environmental and nuclear safety of the Astravyets plant, but the EU's involvement at the technical level is not enough "to reduce the potential threats of this Russian-led project", the president said.

Nauseda called for a clear political signal to be sent to Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, urging him not to turn the facility on until safety issues have been resolved and the EU stress test recommendations have been implemented.

At the same time, day-to-day monitoring of the safety situation and implementation of safety measures, including regular visits by EU experts to the plant, should be ensured, he said. 

Vilnius is the biggest critic of the Astravyets plant and is determined to bar market access for its electricity. Minsk denies that the facility fails to meet international safety standards.