“Everything always depends on both parties. Always. Of course, much depends on the agents in a given situation. We used to manage reaching an agreement with Andrius Kubilius. I do not know if an agreement will be reached this time,” Gediminas Kirkilas, the Vice-Chairman of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, told Alfa.lt, when asked if the party would carry on with the ambitious projects initiated by the incumbent PM Andrius Kubilius, alfa.lt portal writes.
Some suggest that if the Social Democrats emerged victorious in the upcoming parliamentary elections and formed the Government (possibly a coalition) the Visaginas nuclear power plant (VAE) project would be stopped. Could it be that the Social Democrats have already made such a decision?
For the moment, there is nothing to stop because nothing was started. The Social Democrats are set to revise the entire project and, only then, to make a joint decision with potential coalition partners. The current initial scenario on starting the design phase is not acceptable to the Social Democrats under the present conditions; therefore, there is no support on our side. Of course, the project or the possibility of building the VAE will be revised.
Another issue, as you might know, is that in one week, the Parliament will have to decide whether elections will be used to hold a referendum on nuclear power plant construction. Either outcome of such a referendum would have an impact. If people give the go-ahead to the construction, the impact will be positive and, if they disagree, the impact will be entirely different. It is thus difficult to say now as to what the final decision will be, but it will be made after all the circumstances are evaluated.
Could it be that the Social Democratic mistrust for the VAE project is merely a political tit for tat as Conservatives trampled down the LEO LT project initiated by your party?
No, definitely not. The only difference between the current project and our project is that four years of complete inactivity have passed. Another thing is that, according to our plan, a major part of the funds would have been injected by a private partner, which would have been really good.
This is exactly what we are talking about: the current two projects – the VAE and the liquefied natural gas terminal – would be too heavy of a burden for our country to take given the existing financial and economic situation. Projects need to be prioritised.
We are definitely not playing any vendetta or retaliation games here, but we think that our project was better. Nothing happened now except the fact that instead of attributing a major part of the funds, financing, and crediting to a private investor, the state shoulders the entire burden itself. This is the only difference.
This has nothing to do with any retaliation. We backed nuclear energy in Lithuania under the previous conditions. Let us not forget that Lithuania will have to comply with additional conditions, too. I am referring here to the EU agreement 2020. We will have to cut emissions. There are two possible roads to take: either nuclear energy or green energy. Green energy is a longer and more expensive option.
According to unconfirmed sources, the Social Democrats have already resolved that if they succeed in elections, electric energy will be bought from the Baltic NPP that is under construction in the Kaliningrad region.
This is not true. It is quite the contrary. The preliminary protocols were actually signed by Jonas Garbaravičius and his company Scaent Baltic, which has links with the Conservatives. I have been talking about this for a long time now and I have even raised the question at the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence. Why are the Conservatives saying one thing but acting differently? Or will the Conservatives distance themselves from Jonas Garbaravičius? For the moment, preliminary agreements are signed (Alfa.lt comment: last year, Inter RAO Lietuva signed an agreement with Inter RAO JES on electric energy supplies from the Baltijskaja nuclear power plant that is under construction in the Kaliningrad region to the Baltic states and the neighbouring countries. The agreement provides that from 2017 to 2036, Inter RAO Lietuva could supply up to 1,000 MW of electric energy to the Baltic and neighbouring markets. The amount of imported electricity could be increased if there is demand. Currently, the import of electricity produced at the Kaliningrad nuclear power plant is approved by a specific long-term agreement.
Jonas Garbaravičius, the Chairman of the Board of Scaent Baltic, which controls a minor interest in Inter RAO Lietuva, says that as the economy recovers, the Baltic and neighbouring states will eventually face electricity deficit, thus the arrival of major electric energy producers will contribute to increased energy security in the region).
So, in this respect, the Social Democrats have nothing to do with it.
Not so long ago, quite an unexpected project dubbed 2K (Gediminas Kirkilas and Andrius Kubilius – Alfa.lt) was staged when Social Democratic PM and the leader of the main opposition party collaborated for the benefit of Lithuania. Now, the situation is slightly changed because you are no longer the leader of the Social Democrats, but would you say national-level agreements are still possible in the field of major energy projects?
There were main national agreements and they proved out with respect to the EU and NATO. The Social Democrats and Conservatives were the key parties involved in the agreements. Energy projects are long in terms of their fulfilment.
Although the Conservatives were the first to break the agreements on LEO LT, an accord is still in sight. This is unavoidable because in the absence of a political agreement between the country’s main parties, there will be no long-term projects. At least, this is my conviction. Such agreements must be reached and it is people who make the effort – people with their stories and emotions. Much depends on current leaders but agreements must be sought because potential investors, in this case the Japanese company Hitachi, are aware of our political situation and they understand that after the elections the situation will change, positions will alter and, if there are no long-term agreements, who knows if they will remain interested in investing in Lithuania.
So everything will depend on you, i.e. Social Democrats?
Everything always depends on both parties. Always. Of course, much depends on the agents in a given situation. We used to manage reaching an agreement with Andrius Kubilius. I do not know if an agreement will be reached this time.