RECALL: Andrus Ansip wants Lithuania to hold another referendum on the nuclear power plant.
VILNIUS - Lithuania has proposed creating a joint venture with Latvia and Estonia, which would then make a final decision on whether or not to go forward with the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project after calculations and an analysis are made, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said on May 2 to the local radio station Ziniu radijas, reports LETA. According to him, Lithuania wants to know whether Latvia and Estonia will agree upon joining such a joint venture, which would confirm the willingness of both countries to participate in the power plant project.
“We want a clear position from Latvia and Estonia on the possibility of establishing a joint venture, which would continue talks on the power plant project. If such a joint venture is established, it will be a sign that our regional partners are serious about the project,” the Lithuanian prime minister said.
Butkevicius will discuss the future of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project with his Latvian and Estonian counterparts in Riga on May 30.
The Lithuanian prime minister said that before the meeting, the ministers of the respective countries will hold their meetings as well.
Butkevicius stressed that he had talked with the Latvian and Estonian prime ministers on the phone and agreed that meetings regarding the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant must be held at the level of ministers and companies. He also explained that, during the previous meetings, his Latvian and Estonian counterparts had asked for more information on the project.
62.7 percent of voters cast ‘No’ in a non-binding referendum on the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project in Lithuania last year, while almost 34 percent backed the plan. Despite placing no legal obligation on the government, the result throws new doubt on an already-sluggish project.
Fly in the ointment
In early May Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip announced that Estonia could consider participating in the Lithuanian nuclear power plant project only if a new referendum was held that would yield a different result than before, reports Public Broadcasting.
“We are naturally interested in proceeding with the Visaginas project but, unfortunately, a referendum has been held in Lithuania and two thirds of the people said a clear ‘No,’ said Ansip.
“The Estonian government and Eesti Energia won’t go to Lithuania to develop activities that are against the will of the Lithuanian people,” he added. “First, the Lithuanians have to come to an understanding on whether they want it or not. Only a new referendum can change the earlier position.”
Estonian Economy Minister Juhan Parts also confirmed that the support of the Lithuanian people is the most important factor in this issue.
Joint venture is first step
The Lithuanian parliament opposition leader Conservative Andrius Kubilius is not surprised about the government’s plans to establish a joint company with Latvia and Estonia. The former prime minister of Lithuania noted that this is the first step in planning the construction of the NPP.
“This company is indeed yet another step towards the construction; however, it is not final: it is only the beginning. Then, 2-3 years of negotiations would follow until we would finally be able to have all the precise figures and make the final decision if we invest or not, like all three regional partners,” Kubilius said on May 3 on radio Ziniu Radijas.
The former prime minister also said that the establishment of such a company was no surprise to him: his former government always encouraged the Latvians and Estonians to set up this kind of company. According to the politician, the company was necessary in order to sign a concession treaty after parliament voting, and then establish a company to carry out the project.