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Stopping the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus through legal means is hardly possible, but arguments of European integration could be used for this purpose, Romas Švedas, a member of the Implementation Committee of the UN Espoo Convention, said on Monday evening.
Romas Švedas
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"Stopping the construction of an engineering facility in another sovereign state through legal means is hardly possible, but if we look at it as a hindrance to European integration, then such a possibility exists," he said during a LRT television program.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis also thinks that political arguments should be used in an effort to stop the project. As Belarus seeks cooperation with any other EU member state, the issue of the Astravyets plant should be raised.

"First of all, we should look through a political lens at how to prevent this entity from starting to function. We can speak about bilateral relations between Belarus and the European Union," Skvernelis said.

"If Belarus wants to develop economic and legal ties with any other EU country on a bilateral basis, as regards various sanctions and an easing of the trade regime, the Astravyets issue must come first: you want something, we have a problem," he said.

According to Dalius Misiūnas, chairman of the management board at the state energy group Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy), if the logic of the Astravyets project is based on economic arguments, it is possible to halt the construction using economic arguments, but that would require a broad consensus across the market.

"Lithuania is part of the Baltic, Scandinavian and, in part, the European market. That market has certain rules and if there were a consensus that unsafely produced electricity is not suitable for us, then it would be possible to economically restrict market access for such electricity," he said.

Belarus is building two nuclear reactors of 1,200 megawatts each in Astravyets, with the first unit planned to be switched on in 2019 and the second one in 2020.

Lithuania says that Belarus fails to follow safety standards and international environmental requirements in building the plant, but Minsk rejects the criticism as unfounded.