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Minister of Foreign Affairs

Linas Linkevičius

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Lithuania appeals to the European Commission regarding an irresponsible attitude of Belarus towards nuclear safety and international obligations related to the Ostrovets NPP

Created: 2019.05.03 / Updated: 2019.05.03 16:17

On 3 May, Lithuania appealed to the European Commission regarding an irresponsible attitude of Belarus towards nuclear safety and international obligations related to the Ostrovets NPP.

The Lithuanian Foreign and Energy Ministers Linas Linkevičius and Žygimantas Vaičiūnas sent a joint letter to the Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Commission Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. In the letter, the Ministers draw attention to the latest steps taken by Belarus to avoid cooperation with the European Union on environmental and nuclear safety issues, the country's irresponsible approach towards these issues, as well as its failure to comply with international obligations related to the Ostrovets NPP.

“Lithuania does not put up with the unsafe nuclear project in the EU‘s neighborhood. Despite the EU‘s repeated call on Belarus to address faults that had been identified during stress tests, Belarus continues to prioritize the construction schedule rather than nuclear safety. The 10 months since the submission of these findings saw only Belarusian attempts to negotiate safety enhancement of the Ostrovets NPP selectively. This letter sends a signal to the European Union's officials that an urgent action is needed to protect safety of the entire EU. We proposed that the European Commission should take the lead and develop a comprehensive action plan for the next steps by the EU with regard to the Ostrovets NPP, ” noted the Lithuanian Foreign Minister L. Linkevičius.

Lithuania consistently and actively raises questions about the environmental impact, nuclear and radiation protection of the Ostrovets NPP with the United Nations, conventions and bodies of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In February, the Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) decided that Belarus had inappropriately chosen the construction site for the Ostrovets NPP.

It is recognized that the Belarusian project poses threats to Lithuania‘s national security, environment and public health. The inappropriate selection of the construction site is one of its major problems. The IAEA‘s site inspection mission in 2017 was limited and did not assess selection criteria for the Ostrovets NPP.

To date, Belarus has not provided answers to the main questions raised by Lithuania regarding the project‘s nuclear and radiation safety, and environmental protection issues. The EU‘s report on stress tests in Belarus, which was published in July 2018 about the Ostrovets NPP, identified serious safety deficiencies and made recommendations for their removal. Despite the EU‘s repeated call on Belarus to present a roadmap for addressing the identified shortcomings, the country has so far failed to come up with such a plan. Belarus continues to deny obvious facts and international decisions.