Meeting of Parties to Aarhus Convention recognizes that Belarus continues to violate Convention when constructing Ostrovets NPP
The session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on 14 September in Montenegro admitted that Belarus, when developing the Ostrovets nuclear power plant (NPP) project, had violated the right of the public under this Convention to receive information and to participate in environmental decision-making. Thus, it has been acknowledged for the 3rd time that Belarus does not comply with its international obligations under the Aarhus Convention.
“Neither the public in Belarus, nor in Lithuania were allowed to play a role in decision-making processes with regard to the nuclear power plant in Belarus. Thus, this project is being developed without public consent. Obviously, the Belarusian Government has not received the public mandate for the construction of the Ostrovets NPP,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.
The decision taken at the session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention states that the Belarusian society was not able to participate effectively in decision-making with regard to the Ostrovets NPP project, because Belarus has not yet established a mechanism of public participation in decision-making processes. In addition, it is not clear which decision should be considered final and allowing for the launch of the project.
The Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention has also acknowledged that Belarus illegally harassed, persecuted and punished its environmental activists protesting against the Ostrovets NPP, and, therefore, has violated the provisions of the Convention. In 2012, Belarusian law enforcement officers arrested and sentenced 4 activists who are famous for their campaign against the Ostrovets NPP, and sentenced them to administrative detention.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania reminds that a representative survey of the Lithuanian population was carried out in July 2017, which showed that 65% of Lithuania’s residents believed that the Ostrovets NPP posed a threat to the country’s security. Even 88% of residents in Klaipėda, 74% in Panevėžys, 73% in Alytus, 69% in Kaunas and 68% in Vilnius considered the Ostrovets NPP a threat.