Education Minister tightens stance on scientists' involvement in Belarus' nuclear project
In a reversal of its earlier position that Lithuania benefits from its scientists providing advice to Belarus on nuclear safety, the Education and Science Ministry said on Tuesday that the Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI) should not participate in the European Commission-funded international project.
"In light of the political context, the Lithuanian Energy Institute's scientists should not participate in the Astravyets NPP project," Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė said in a comment to BNS.
The Education and Science Ministry is the founder of the LEI.
Eugenijus Butkus, the minister's advisor on higher education, told BNS on Monday that Lithuania's participation in the project was important for the country, given that Belarus follows nuclear safety standards developed by Russian bodies.
The advisor said that Lithuania's scientists would withdraw from the project if the European Commission, which finances the project, decided so. He confirmed that Minsk itself had asked the EU's executive body to eliminate Lithuania from the project due to Vilnius' strong stance on the Astravyets nuclear power plant issue.
Aurelija Vernickaitė, a spokesman for the energy minister, told BNS that Lithuanian institutions should not participate in any projects related to the Astravyets plant, which Lithuania has declared a threat to national security, saying that Belarus might use that for propaganda purposes.
LEI Director Sigitas Rimkeviėius told BNS that the project was aimed at implementing Western nuclear safety standards in Belarus, which, in his opinion, benefits Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said last Friday that the LEI had to reconsider its position on its scientists' participation in the project.