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Plans to finalize discussion with Lithuania about Belarusian nuclear power plant in February

Belarus intends to put the discussion with Lithuania about the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant to rest during the next session of the meeting of parties to the Espoo Convention in Geneva in February 2019, BelTA learned from Belarusian First Deputy Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Iya Malkina on 4 October.

Asked about the dialogue with Lithuania regarding the construction of the nuclear power plant near Ostrovets, Iya Malkina said: “Despite problems the expert community shows certain understanding of the ongoing processes. We hope that the next session of the meeting of parties to the Espoo Convention in February 2019 will put the matter to rest.”

In her words, Belarus is now focused on fulfilling the recommendations both sides received within the framework of the Espoo Convention meeting in 2014. The recommendations are viewed as the foundation for further bilateral cooperation. “On the whole, I would like to note that in 2017 and in H1 2018 we’ve made some serious headway in informing our European colleagues and neighbors about what is going in in Belarus [regarding the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant],” said the official.

Iya Malkina said that Belarus and Lithuania reject the format of bilateral negotiations because they see that inviting experts from international competent organizations is the most progressive and productive way of working together to secure progress.

Belarusian and Lithuanian experts continue working together to draft the intergovernmental agreement on implementing the Espoo Convention. “It is a bilateral interstate agreement. We’ve secured some progress on it. A regular meeting of experts took place in June 2018. We intend to arrange another meeting by the end of November 2018. It seems to us that that meeting will allow us to reach the stage of intrastate approval procedures,” explained Iya Malkina.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built using the Russian standard Generation III+ design AES-2006 near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2019, with the second one to go online in 2020. The first batch of nuclear fuel is supposed to be delivered to the nuclear power plant by the end of the year.