Belarusian envoy summoned to Lithuanian MFA


Uladzimir Drazhyn heard out claims of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over a public hearing on the expected environmental impact of Belarus’ future nuclear power plant.

During the meeting Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Rolandas Krisciunas called on Belarus to abide by its international commitments and aim for a constructive dialogue about its nuclear power plant project.

“There should be no compromises at the expense of nuclear safety,” Mr Krisciunas said. “The inexplicable haste that has begun recently is unacceptable, and the implementation of international commitments, above all, the Espoo Convention, cannot be merely formal.”

The official pointed out that Belarus’ nuclear project could also affect residents of Lithuania, and that Vilnius would therefore continue to call on Minsk to comply with nuclear safety standards.

According to the MFA’s press office, on April, 2013 the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention stated that Belarus had violated the Convention by failing to provide Lithuania with the information necessary to assess the possible environmental impact of the nuclear project.

Despite the fact that the Espoo Committee had criticized Belarusian government’s 2011 report on the possible environmental impact of the nuclear power plant, Belarus sent a translation of the report to the Lithuanian government in June 2013 and then made a unilateral decision to hold a public hearing in Astravets, Hrodna region, the press office said.

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Last week the Belarusian side organised a controversial public hearing on constructing a nuclear power plant in Astravets: according to the regulations, it should not have been held in the territory of our country. Furthermore, a public consultation stage ought to be concluded before any construction works start, and not the reverse. The event was rather in the nature of a PR action than a public hearing, some of the witnesses stressed.

A number of Lithuanian NGOs boycotted the event, condemning it as a “mock” public hearing and calling on the Belarusian government to suspend the plant construction before assessing its possible environmental impact as required by the Espoo Convention.

Lithuanian officials also expressed their dissatisfaction over the Belarusian authorities’ sidestepping on the issue. “One may suggest that there may be no such answers, that`s why they use such concert-style means of dialogue. We don`t need a show, we need the requirements of the Espoo Convention to be observed consistently,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said.

The construction of two nuclear reactors for the plant located in Astravets is provided in the agreement reached by Belarus and Russia, the reactors being supplied by Atomstroyexport, Russia. The project faced opposition at home and abroad on both safety and political grounds.

Belsat, following BelaPAN

www.belsat.eu/en

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