VILNIUS -- President Valdas Adamkus believes Lithuania may be able to convince the European Union of the necessity to extend the lifespan of the current Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP).
He is confident, however, that the country will avoid "energy famine" under any scenario. Even if a new Ignalina II facility is completed by 2012 's a prospect that seems increasingly unlikely 's there would be a three-year gap between shutdown of the old Soviet-era plant and the opening of the new state-of-the-art facility. However, 2015 is looking like a more realistic target given the ongoing wrangling between the Baltic states and Poland over their respective shares in the project and the share of power output they could expect to receive.
"First of all, we shall evaluate the current circumstances, future prospects, and then go, talk and negotiate using the language of arguments; I think this is reasoned and necessary. I think it is possible [to convince the EU]," said Adamkus, Oct. 16 in an interview with Lithuanian radio station Ziniu Radijas.
"There are lots of reasonable people and they see the actual situation as it is, since we are an EU member state, and it is important for the EU not to ruin the whole economic life of one of its members. I think we will not be able to build [Ignalina II] by 2009; it might be expected that we will build by 2012 if we are not put back by vain discussions now. Reasonable people may always agree on a period of two or three years, I believe," Adamkus said in Tuesday's interview to the news radio station Ziniu Radijas.
"The most important thing is that we have a new power plant to build, and it would be unreasonable, irrational to cut any further supply sources we are using at present. I think that any reasonable establishment or person will understand [that] we may consider a period of extension so as to have us shift from one system to the other," Adamkus said.
"I will be visiting Sweden in mid-November, I have already spoken about a possibility to have a link to Sweden via the Baltic Sea, via Estonia, and get electricity from Sweden. Again, Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, who is well aware of the circumstances, told me during the Vilnius Energy Conference that Ukraine was ready to sell electricity to Lithuania, if required," Adamkus said.
Adamkus' hope for an extension of the Ignalina deadline directly contradicts what European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said just days earlier.
"The power plant shall be closed as scheduled, since it has been provided for in Lithuania's Accession Treaty. Moreover, a shutdown compensation scheme has been worked out. The funds being assigned will be lost if the obligations are not fulfilled. Finally, the closure date is no surprise to Lithuania," the commissioner told the media last week.
"Let us not waste time on vain discussions," he warned.