Prime Minister: Germany’s EU Presidency opens up an opportunity to take up challenges posed by the Astravets NPP


2020 07 01

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On behalf of the Government, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has extended greetings to Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel on Germany taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union as of 1 July.  

According to the Prime Minister, the European Union has entered a period of challenges and new opportunities. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of mutual solidarity and urgent action by the European Union. The economic response proposed by the European Commission, consisting of the Multiannual Budget proposal and the Recovery Plan, is to reduce the economic development gap among member states and promote their economic development as well as green and digital transformation on our continent.

Expressing support for Germany’s leadership on those and other matters important for Lithuania and the European Union, the Prime Minister has emphasized that Lithuania will remain a close partner of Germany in the euro area in strengthening the internal market and aiming at a consensus on the Mobility Package, part of which discriminates against carriers from many member states and undermines our common climate goals.

The Head of the Lithuanian Government has emphasized the commitment to implement strategic European infrastructure projects without delay, and has called on German companies to take an active part in the Rail Baltica project. The aim is to build the Rail Baltica railway in Lithuania by 2026.

The letter has also noted that synchronization of the Baltic electricity systems with the grid of continental Europe, which is to be completed by 2025, is of exceptional geopolitical significance. Strong support from European partners is now needed to ensure that obstacles initiated by third parties do not arise during this critical period to the project.

Saulius Skvernelis has expressed his deep concern at the construction, in violation of international agreements, of the Astravets nuclear power plant next to the European Union’s external border in Belarus, to which the nuclear fuel had recently been delivered. Therefore, a strong and clear message must be sent to the Belarusian leadership that Europe does not support the commissioning of the unsafe Astravets nuclear power plant until all the essential safety requirements are met, and will not buy the electricity produced there. Belarus’s delay in implementing the recommendations made by international experts from the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) is a matter of great concern.

According to the Prime Minister, it is not to be allowed that while importing electricity produced by the Astravets nuclear power plant, member states of the European Union provide an economic basis for the project to further increase the scale of violations. Saulius Skvernelis has requested Angela Merkel’s support in ensuring the maximum involvement of the European Union institutions to ensure the safety of the power plant through concrete actions.

In the letter, the Prime Minister has thanked the Chancellor for the activities of the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion in Lithuania, and has praised Germany’s efforts in strengthening transatlantic ties and maintaining the US military presence in Europe. According to the Prime Minister, ‘the European Union can make a significant contribution to NATO in areas such as military mobility or civilian crisis management.’

The Head of Government has expressed confidence that Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union will give the necessary impetus to the development of the Union in the coming years.