In the lead-up to the European Union's Eastern Partnership summit, officials in Brussels hail improving relations with Belarus, but promise Lithuania that they will keep up pressure on Minsk to ensure the safety and security of its Astravyets nuclear power plant.
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

A European Commission official told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that relations with Minsk have improved over the past two years, as shown by the lifting of sanctions in exchange for releasing political prisoners.

In line with Brussels' rules, the official asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

The heads of the European Commission and the European Council invited Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to the Eastern Partnership summit, but he decided to send his foreign minister. Brussels and Minsk have also resumed their regular consultations.

Diplomats say that Lithuanian and Polish officials were critical of the decision to invite Lukashenko. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė does not approve the resumption of a closer dialog with Minsk, due to the Astravyets project safety issues and Belarus' joint military exercises with Russia.

Speaking to journalists ahead of Friday's Eastern Partnership summit, the European Commission official said that EU officials will continue to call on Belarus to comply with the highest safety standards.

"We have raised the issue of nuclear power plant on many occasions. There are close contacts between our experts in the Directorate-General for Energy in the European Commission with both Belarus' experts and Lithuanian experts, understanding that Lithuania is only 20 kilometres away from where nuclear power plant is about to be constructed," the official said.

"We have shown and continue to show full solidarity with Lithuania and other neighbouring countries who are concerned about the security of this nuclear power plant", he said.

Lithuanian officials say that the nuclear power plant under construction in Astravyets, some 40 kilometres from Vilnius, does not meet safety and environmental standards, but Minsk rejects the criticism.

In an effort to hinder the project, Lithuania plans to bar access for the plant's electricity to its market. The Lithuanian government two years ago asked Brussels to start EU-level discussions on boycotting unsafe power plants, but it did not receive support either from the European Commission or other member states.

BNS
It is prohibited to copy and republish the text of this publication without a written permission from UAB „BNS“.
Leave a comment
or for anonymous commenting click here
By posting, you agree to terms
Read comments Read comments

Lithuanian agrimin to discuss post-Brexit agriculture funding issues in Austria

Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys will on Monday attend an informal meeting of EU...

Lithuanian president calls for avoiding chaotic Brexit

Attending an informal meeting of EU leaders on Thursday, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė...

Lithuania proposes to create single set of external border standards in EU

President Dalia Grybauskaitė presented Lithuania's initiative to introduce a single set of external...

Europe needs lasting solutions to counter illegal migration - president Grybauskaitė

The European Union remains the center of attraction for economic refugees seeking a better life...

Lithuanian president, EU leaders to discuss Brexit, migration in Salzburg

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is leaving for the Austrian city of Salzburg where she will...