Speaker of the Seimas: "Belarus’ behaviour worries not only Lithuania"
Press release, 21 April 2017
Photos of the Office of the Seimas (author Olga Posaškova)
On 21 April 2017, Viktoras Pranckietis, Speaker of the Seimas, met with Rebecca Harms, MEP from Germany, and discussed further joint actions on the Astravyets nuclear power plant (NPP). The Speaker of the Seimas noted that Belarus failed to ensure the promised transparency and that the denial of access to the country for the group of MEPs was a highly disconcerting fact.
“The safety of the Astravyets NPP is a common concern for both Lithuania and the whole European Union (EU). It is very alarming that Belarus denied entry to the MEPs for unidentified ‘administrative reasons’. The NPP project poses critical nuclear and environmental threats to the EU neighbouring countries and creates unfair competition in the electricity market. A clear signal must be sent that the electricity produced in violation of international regulations on nuclear safety, security and transboundary environmental impact assessment will not be allowed to the EU,” said Mr Pranckietis.
Rebecca Harms and Lithuanian MEPs Algirdas Saudargas, Petras Auštrevičius, and Bronis Ropė planned to visit Belarus on 20 April 2017. They intended to meet with the executive authorities and NGOs and visit the construction site of the Astravyets NPP. Following the visit to Belarus, a number of meetings should have been arranged in Lithuania. However, Belarus denied entry to the MEPs.
“We persistently bring to attention the fact that the siting of the NPP has not been substantiated thus far, transboundary environmental impact assessment has not been completed, and the Lithuanian society has not been informed of the health effects of the NPP. We suppose that Belarus must stop the construction of the Astravyets NPP, continue with the transboundary environmental impact assessment in accordance with the Espoo Convention, receive the international commission for the supervision of the construction of the Astravyets NPP, immediately host a full-scale IAEA SEED mission, and carry out a comprehensive risk and resilience assessment of the Astravyets NPP project,” said the Speaker of the Seimas.
On 13–16 June 2017, the parties to the Espoo Convention will meet in Minsk to consider the issue of the Astravyets NPP. “Active involvement of MEPs into the debate on the Astravyets NPP in the context of the Espoo Convention meeting would significantly contribute to turning the international environmental and nuclear safety standards into actually effective rules followed in implementation of nuclear energy projects, rather than mere declarations,” said Mr Pranckietis.
On 20 April 2017, the Seimas adopted a decision to limit electricity imports from the Astravyets NPP constructed in Belarus and other unsafe nuclear power plants in third countries.
The United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (known as the Espoo Convention) is an international treaty that was adopted in Espoo, Finland, in 1991 and entered into force on 10 September 1997. This is the first multilateral agreement establishing detailed rules on transboundary environmental impact assessment and procedural requirements.
Dalia Vencevičienė, Senior Adviser to the Speaker of the Seimas, tel. +370 5 239 6016, mob. +370 698 42 071, e-mail: [email protected]