Public figures in Lithuania call for opposing Astravyets NPP in Belarus

  • 2020-01-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – A number of public figures in Lithuania have called for active resistance to the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus. They say they want to become a center that would constantly remind about the nuclear facility situated close to the Lithuanian border.

Vytautas Landsbergis, former speaker of Lithuania's Supreme Council-Reconstituent Seimas and honorary chairman of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says a public resistance movement against the Astravyets power plant could demand for the facility to be built in another place.

"The demand could be very simple: the place should be different. This place is impermissible; it should be at least 100 km from large residential areas. So it's an impermissible thing in the first place but it was allowed as those who did that ignored everything," Landsbergis told a press conference on Wednesday.

A signed memorandum calls for coming together and initiating a public resistance movement against the nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus and deemed unsafe by Lithuania.

Landsbergis said Lithuania is already incurring losses over the Astravyets facility as it needs to invest into the protection of people.

"I believe Lithuania is already incurring losses and will have to invest a lot into the protection of people and self-defense. That needs to be included into the Astravyets damage bill. That should be on international conscience," he said.

MP Zygimantas Pavilionis, representing the HU-LCD, says such a movement is aimed at making the European Union hear Lithuania's position on Astravyets.

"We want the EU to hear our position, for it to accept our position as theirs and to ban the purchase of electricity from this unsafe power plant," Pavilionis said.

In his opinion, Lithuania needs to pool all efforts to fight against the construction of the Astravyets nuclear facility.

"The president is the only person yet, raising this issue at the EU level, but he needs support from a whole army, and the support of the government, diplomats and political forces," Pavilionis said.

Meanwhile, Mecys Laurinkus, a signatory to the Act of Independence, expressed his regret over a lack of unanimity on Astravyets in Lithuania. In his words, Lithuania was too late to realize the threat this facility is posing.

"We realize that threat too late but we now need to finish this stage. We need to look what to do. There's no unanimity on this issue in Lithuania. There's no unanimity on this issue among specialists, experts, politicians etc. That’s important. We should probably be concerned about that," he said.

The new movement will aim at becoming a center that will constantly remind of the threat posed by the Astravyets nuclear power plant, Laurinkus says.

"We need some sort of a center where this issue would be constantly maintained, reminded and, finally, to ensure that it's not just some conversation and request in the press, but a piece of advice, insistent advice and even demand to take certain diplomatic, political and economic action," Laurinkus said.

Meanwhile political scientist Raimundas Lopata rejects claims that it's too late to resist the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant.

"There's a prevailing opinion in government circles that Astravyets has been built already and nothing can be done. The claim that Astravyets has been built already is fundamentally wrong. The fact is that only a quarter of it has been constructed, and the Russians plan to build another three," Lopata said.

In his words, to bolster Lithuania's energy security, it's important to complete the power network synchronization project with the EU sooner than 2025 and to create a monitoring system immediately.

The memorandum on the establishment of a peaceful resistance to the Astravyets nuclear power plant has been singed by 21 public figures.

Belarus announced in December that nuclear fuel for the Astravyets nuclear power plant's first reactor would be brought in in the first quarter of this year and they expect to launch the reactor as early as this year.

Lithuania's position is that the Belarusian nuclear facility is being construction unsafely and in violation of international commitments, which Minsk denies.