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Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses concern about the purposefully misleading information that the BELTA News Agency circulated on 2 March in Belarus, suggesting that Lithuania did not object to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report regarding the planned construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).
Lithuania notes that the EIA process is not complete, because until now the country has not received from Belarus the answers to its questions about the NPP project in Belarus. Lithuania is mostly interested in the motives that lie behind the project’s construction site selection in Astraviec, less than 50 km away from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

In accordance with the provisions of the international Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), Belarus has to answer all the questions essentially and to organize public hearings in Lithuania, as well as bilateral consultations.

Lithuania once again calls on Belarus to fully comply with the Espoo Convention. Attention should be drawn to the fact that according to the Convention, final decisions regarding the construction site shall be taken and real work shall start only after have synchronized all the EIA documentation. Belarus supplied Lithuania with complemented EIA report only in the middle of February this year.

Lithuania’s official position concerning the EIA documentation of the planned NPP in Belarus was expressed already on 7 May 2010, and Belarus was repeatedly informed about such position of Lithuania on 18 June 2010 in Minsk, during the meeting of representatives from Lithuania and Belarus, also in the letter of 9th July 2010 from the Ministry of Environment of Lithuania to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of Belarus. Lithuania refused to acknowledge the bilateral meeting of the 18th June as consultations in compliance with the Espoo Convention, because there were violations of the Convention’s provisions regarding timely and comprehensive information, organization of public hearings and other procedures as provided for by the Convention.

On 6 December 2010 Lithuania sent a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and drew attention to the repeated statements by Belarusian officials that the EIA procedures of the NNP, which is planned to be constructed in Belarus, were supposedly completed and that Lithuania allegedly did not object to the EIA report.

In the short run, Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will use diplomatic channels to repeatedly convey to Belarus the questions of Lithuanian institutions, which have not been answered yet.

Please note that on 20 January the Espoo Convention Secretariat also expressed concern regarding the non-compliance of the EIA procedures of the Belarusian NNP project with the Convention.