Baltic ministers and EU commissioner discuss electricity trade

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The Baltic ministers in charge of energy and EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson discussed electricity trade with third countries in Brussels on Tuesday as Lithuania continues efforts to convince its neighbors to joint its boycott of electricity from Belarus’ Astravyets nuclear power plant.

“A discussion with the commissioner took place. The negotiations are ongoing and consensus on trade with third countries is being sought,” Aurelija Vernickaite, an advisor to Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas, told.

“Lithuania’s position is consistent and clear: there can be no discussion about purchasing electricity from unsafe power plants,” she said. “This is the position we are holding onto in the talks.”

Simson said in a brief tweet that she was meeting with the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian energy ministers “to discuss the latest situation in the Baltics regarding the synchronization and nuclear safety”.

President Gitanas Nauseda last month called on the country’s foreign and energy ministers to coordinate their positions for Lithuanian to act “as one fist”.

The president’s call came after opposition politicians criticized Vaiciunas’ proposed draft agreement with Latvia and Estonia as being not ambitious enough and called for the energy minister to recuse himself from the talks.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius had also criticized the proposed deal.

Vaiciunas has said that the draft agreement, which provides for a guarantee of origin system and import taxes but would not commit Latvia not to buy Belarusian electricity, would allow Lithuania to implement its “anti-Astravyets” law aimed at barring market access for electricity from the nuclear facility that Belarus plans to launch shortly.

Lithuania is the most vocal critic of the Astravyets plant located some 50 kilometers from Vilnius, saying that the facility fails to meet international safety standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.

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