VILNIUS - A Polish minister has said that Lithuania needed to speak more clearly and declare its exact intention regarding the 4 billion euro nuclear power plant the Baltic state eagerly wants to build.
Speaking at an economic forum in Krynica on Sept. 6, Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak said that he was not happy with "communication via the media" on the project, Interfax Central Europe reported.
"We must wait until our partners inform us officially, rather than through the media," he was quoted as saying.
"Lately we have heard much noise in the media, while state officials have been sending contradictory signals," the minister said.
The statement testifies to allegations that Lithuanian officials have mismanaged part of the diplomacy on the nuclear power plant, which also involves Latvia and Estonia. On previous occasions Lithuania's Baltic neighbors have expressed dismay at Lithuanian behavior and failure to consult partners before making decisions involving the project.
Wozniak confirmed that Poland was interested in participating in the new nuclear facility, stressing, however, that the country wanted to have 1,200 megawatts, or approximately one-third, of the new facility's capacity.
In June Lithuania's parliament adopted a law on nuclear power which granted Lithuania a 34 percent stake in the project and the other three partners a 22 percent interest. Division of electrical output among the plant's four owners would be based strictly on ownership shares.
Understandably, Poland, a nation of 36 million, is keen to maximize its exposure to the project given its enormous energy needs.
In July Poland's prime minister failed to show up in Vilnius for the signing of a critical agreement that would have effectively launched the project. At the time, the prime minister's office claimed domestic politics needed to take priority, but many opined the Poles had reservations about the project.
The new nuclear power plant, which will replace the Soviet-era Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant scheduled to be closed in 2009, has a tentative opening date of 2015, though meeting that target is looking increasingly unlikely as the four sides have yet to come to a final agreement on ownership stakes.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said on Sept. 7 that he expects the four sides to agree on how to share the plant's capacity after an environmental impact study is completed.
"An environmental assessment has to be done. It will most probably give answers to the questions that have caused the most controversy recently 's that is, what capacity the new reactor can have," Kirkilas said in a radio interview.
"A reactor of at least 1,600 megawatts would satisfy the needs of all the countries. Latvia and Estonia want 400 - 500 megawatts each, and Poland wants 1,000 or more. Lithuania would also need about 1,000 megawatts," he said.
"So 3,200 megawatts would be sufficient for all the parties. That would certainly make negotiations completely different," he said.
Plans call for building two reactors, which would increase the overall cost of the project to at least 4 billion euros.