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Latvia, Estonia push for Baltic nuclear plant
by Staff Writers
Riga (AFP) Feb 18, 2009

The Baltic states' leaders and the heads of their national energy companies are expected to discuss the plant at a conference in Lithuania on March 6.

Latvia and Estonia Wednesday said they were tired of delays to a four-nation nuclear power plant project which is meant to help the Baltic states reduce the energy clout of their Soviet-era master Moscow.

"This project is moving slowly," Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins told AFP after meeting with his Estonian opposite number Urmas Paet.

He said Riga was hoping that a long-awaited environmental impact study would be released next month.

"If that will be the case, then we can move on. If there will be delays again, that's an additional problem," he said.

The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, plus fellow 2004 European Union entrant Poland, have pledged to build a replacement for a Soviet-era nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

Lithuania agreed to close the plant, located near Ignalina in the east of the country, by the end of this year under the terms of its EU admission.

The goal has been to bring the new plant online by 2015, although experts suggest 2017-2020 is more realistic because progress has been slow, notably amid wrangling over each country's share of the output.

The sluggishness has already driven Estonia to consider going it alone, Paet noted.

"Estonia's first preference is the Ignalina power plant," he told reporters.

"Our concern has been so far that this project has been heavily delayed. The expectations have been quite high. The discussions of a possibility to have our own nuclear power plant have started because of the delays in the Ignalina project. It depends how fast things will go in Lithuania," he said.

The Baltic states' leaders and the heads of their national energy companies are expected to discuss the plant at a conference in Lithuania on March 6.

"Hopefully, after this meeting in Lithuania, we can already have a much more concrete framework," said Paet.


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