Andrius Kubilius was recently elected Lithuania’s prime minister but he has had little or no time to enjoy a honeymoon period. Lithunia must start decommissioning the Soviet made Ignalina power plant by December next year, according to the European Union’s accession treaty. But Lithuania says Ignalina must be active for two more years to avoid dangerous power cuts – and it does not want to import more gas from Russia – a situation that has created a stand-off with the EU.
euronews: Prime Minister, first of all what is Lithuania going to do with Ignalina? Is your country going to comply with the commitment made during negotiations for joining the European Union to close this nuclear power plant?
Andrius Kubilius, Lithuanian Prime Minister: In a longer term perspective we are quite sure that together with the European Union, with the commission, we shall solve the problem of the energy security of the Baltic region. We are still continuing some discussions on short-term problems, which can arise after the closure of Ignalina, if we shall close at the end of 2009, and two years will be quite problematic. We are not so sure if the electricity supply will be enough for the region
euronews: Time is running out – there is just a year to go…
AK: We need of course for the electricity bridge to Sweden to be completed very quickly. That would allow us to feel much more safe, in case there will be any problem with the supply of electricity.
euronews: Do you think that the electricity bridge between Sweden and Lithuania will be ready by January 2010?
AK: I don’t have an answer but I don’t know if the Commission has an answer (over) what to do at the beginning of 2010. If we have here in Lithuania a cold winter, a shortage of electricity, because the only solution that we shall have is to buy electricity from Russia. If you look into some statements by international experts it looks like in Russia itself they have some problems with electricity supply for the domestic markets especially in the cold winters.
euronews: The impression is also that it is not that Russia won’t be able to provide energy, to supply energy, but the problem is that you don’t trust, politically speaking, Russia. Is that true?
AK: The closure of the Druzhba pipeline, which was used to provide oil to the refinery in Mozeike, and the closure which was made on political basis from Russian side simply because we sold the refinery not to a Russian company, but to a Polish company, of course it does not improve our feeling of trust towards Russia…so… even despite that fact our trust or mis-trust, the question is about physical capabilities, really we do not know. There are different calculations, some calculations are showing that there’s no possibility to provide enough electricity, enough gas or to make enough electricity from that gas that will be provided
euronews: Visaginas nuclear power plant, the new Ignalina, do you think that this nuclear power plant is going to be built?
AK: It’s a challenge to find an agreement among four countries and more they are saying let’s read the experience of the Airbus, you know?, There is not big experience in handling such kind of business or in reaching an agreement among four countries on such kind of business, but I am quite sure that we shall agree.
euronews: But there is speculation that the problem is that Lithuania wants to lead the project and wants to lead the team. Is that true?
AK: Well, of course, we want to have some kind of leadership because we are really taking a big responsibility to have such kind of nuclear power station in our territory. But we need to have a very practical agreement on percentage of shares, on how to do right generation capacities, you know, and things like that. Poles are saying that really they need to participate in our project of new nuclear power station, because they have an electricity capacity shortage in the north-east of Poland. Of course maybe they will try to use participation in the new Ignalina as some kind of learning process for themselves, which is good. I think that Poland will have a nuclear power station in, let’s say, 15 or 20 years time, for sure. But just now what we are targeting really is to move forward with very clear political agreement and a very clear business agreement on building the Visaginas nuclear power station.
euronews: However there are problems of leadership, or problems among countries, political problems, because when it comes to the electricity bridge, there are some different points of views?
AK: If you look at Lithuania and Latvia it is very clear that we are really prepared both from business point of view, from a financial point of view, from an infrastructural point of view, to have as soon as possible to have the electricity bridge to Sweden. Latvians are a little bit behind in their preparations and simply they are talking much more about some kind on national pride and really, let’s say, business stuff.
euronews: Do you think that without Ignalina it is going to be more difficult for your country to comply with the commitments taken on fighting climate change?
AK: I know that negotiations are also going on with the Commission to give us some additional amount of emission quotas, we have a very clear vision on what we have to do save energy, especially heating energy. We have big challenges to renovate apartments, buildings which are using twice as much energy than new modern houses. Numbers are really big ones, what we need to do is that we have 27,000 apartments
euronews: A lot of money is needed…
AK: Yes, absolutely
euronews: How do you think you will get this money?
AK: All the assistance from the EU side, from all the other possible sources will be of great value. Saving energy of course also brings savings which we are using just now for example to buy gas from Russia, but for a medium term we shall have a really big challenge to implement such a program.