Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says Lithuania has to maintain dialog with Belarus to protect its interests, attributing the conservatives' criticism to next year's parliamentary election.
Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

"This is a neighbor we have to talk to. We must ensure that our interests are protected and defended through cooperation and communication," he told reporters on Wednesday.

Skvernelis said the government was not revising its position on the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, but mentioned that dialog with Minsk might help reduce Russia's influence on the neighboring country.

"While Russia's interest is to drag it closer to itself and integrate it, our (interest) is to see our neighbor as a democratic friendly state," he said.

According to Skvernelis, agreements signed with Belarus by the former government of conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius contributed to the emergence of the Astravyets plant and the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats' current rhetoric is aimed at mobilizing voters ahead of the 2020 election.

The Homeland Union says Vilnius' current efforts to reopen dialog with Minsk may mean the softening of its position on the Astravyets plant.

Lithuanian officials say the nuclear power facility under construction some 50 kilometers from Vilnius and less than 30 kilometers from the Lithuanian border fails to meet international safety and environmental standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.

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