VILNIUS - Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said after returning from a visit to Paris that French businesses were interested in participating in Lithuania's nuclear power plant project.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon told Kirkilas that France was prepared to cooperate on nuclear energy issues, according to Kirkilas' spokespeople, while French businessmen who met with the Lithuanian prime minister also expressed a willingness to play a role in the ambitious energy project.
France and Lithuania are two of Europe's most nuclear power-dependent countries. French participation in the Baltic nuclear power plant, which is likely to have two reactors for a total cost of some 4 billion euros, would provide an enormous boost in terms of finance, technology and political support in the European Union.
During lunch, French businessmen asked Kirkilas about measures Lithuania had adopted against migration and inflation, as well as about the Baltic state's intentions to join the eurozone.
Kirkilas pointed out that investing in Lithuania is three times cheaper than in France and that average monthly wages in the Baltic state were less than 500 euros. Taxes were also lower, he added.
"I cannot promise you any privileges or guarantees against risks. However, I can promise a stable legal environment, the rule of law and fair competition compliant with EU regulations," Kirkilas said at the meeting.
According to reports, Areva, a major worldwide nuclear energy producer, and Natixis, an investment management firm, have made inquiries about the atomic power plant, which will replace the Ignalina facility due to be shut down at the end of 2009.
Specifically, Paris-based Natixis, which has over 600 billion euros under management, is keen on financing the project, the Lithuanian government press service said in a statement. "The prime minister has been notified that the bank is ready to contribute to financing this project," the service said.
Kirkilas also told Anne Lauvergeon, president of Areva, that Lithuania would not delay the project considering the growing importance of nuclear energy across the world. He also explained that the actual reactor-type of the new plant would be chosen via a tender.
Lauvergeon assured that the reactors of Areva complied with all safety requirements, and the group aimed to improve its latest technologies further in future.
Separately, the Environment Ministry has approved a program of environmental impact assessment of the new plant, though details were not released.
The report was coordinated with foreign countries 's Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Poland, Russia, Finland and Sweden 's many of which provided their own input to the study.