Adamkus won't budge on power plant

  • 2008-05-01
  • By Yury Sogis

POWER CUT: The Ignalia power plant provides mot of the power for the nation. Nobody knows what will replace it.

The row over the Ignalia nuclear power plant is set to continue following an announcement from the president that he is determined to hold his ground on the issue.

President Valdas Adamkus made the statement while meeting with European Parliament Chairman Hans-Gert Pottering during an official visit to Lithuania. Adamkus assured his guest that Lithuania was prepared to strictly adhere to the international obligations the country assumed after accession into the European Union.
The Lithuanian president stressed, however, that global changes in energy resources were having a massive impact on the country. 

"Lithuania hopes that the European Union will take into consideration the changing situation in the energy sector and will re-evaluate its strategy in Lithuania," Adamkus said.

These comments were made ahead of the pending closure of the second power generating block at Ignalina. The 2009 shutdown will leave the Baltics in dire need of new energy sources, raising fears that the countries will be forced to turn to Russia for power.

In an address to Lithuanian parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering stressed the necessity to conduct a unified European policy on energy. Pottering said every EU member must be protected against any form of political pressure from Russia.

He called on Lithuanian politicians to ratify the Lisbon treaty as soon as possible and avoid linking the ratification with a possible prolonging of Ignalina's operations.

President Adamkus is confident that Lithuania will join the Lisbon treaty very soon.
"I have no doubt that our parliament will ratify the treaty, opening the way to strong and unified Europe," the president said.

Ignalina generates about 74 percent of electric power consumed in Lithuania.
The first power block of Ignalina nuclear power station opened in 1984 and was closed after Lithuania's accession to the EU in 2004. The second power block was launched in 1987 and is due to be shut down in 2009. In the late 1980s, construction of the third power block was started and almost brought to completion, but protests by Lithuanian environmentalists and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union put an end to the project. The installation was later dismantled and auctioned off.

A great deal of public controversy over the Ignalina power plant rages on. One of the oldest and most respected Lithuanian politicians, historian and former parliamentarian Romualdas Ozolas, has said that nuclear power is in principle a necessity in Lithuania. Ozolas believes that this sector in Lithuania must be controlled by the state and not the private sector.

"My stand is very simple… A ban from Europe on Ignalina operations, and Lithuania's willingness to comply with this demand, would mean Eurocracy prevailing over the independent state of Lithuania," Ozolas said in an April 9 interview with Regnum.

Closing down Ignalina was one of the conditions put forward by the European Union when Lithuania's accession to the EU was negotiated.