Leaders of three Baltic countries pledged here Tuesday to push forward the project of a new nuclear power station.
Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus agreed to welcome Poland into the project to construct the new Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the three leaders told a press conference after a meeting on the issue.
Adamkus said the new power plant would help meet the region's surging energy demand and promote its economic development. Poland's participation would not pose a threat, nor would it stunt the project's development.
Adamkus' remarks were echoed by his Estonian counterpart Ilves, who said Poland was a reliable friend and partner of the Baltic nations.
Latvian President Zatlers said the three countries would wait for a formal decision from Poland's new government given the country has just wrapped up legislative elections. Expressing hope that the Baltic nations would cooperate with Poland on the project, he said at the same time that even if Poland decided to bow out, the project would proceed as well.
The Ignalina plant, built in the 1980s, and which had the same type of reactor involved in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, was the only nuclear power plant in the Baltic region. Lithuanian authorities shut down the No. 1 reactor due to safety concerns in 2004, and are required by the EU to close the No. 2 reactor at the end of 2009.
In February 2006, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia decided to build a new power plant at the Ignalina site, and days later Lithuania reached agreement with Poland to welcome the latter to participate in the joint project.
However, reports said Estonia and Latvia were not happy with the idea. In addition, Poland's government of Lech Kaczynski expressed hope that it would have access to one third of the overall electricity generated by the proposed plant, a demand opposed by the three Baltic countries.
The new nuclear power plant is expected to finish construction no earlier than 2012, but a final deal is pending due to differences among the four countries concerned.