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Baltic Ministers Express Support for Nuclear Plant in Lithuania

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign ministers and lawmakers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia expressed support for a planned nuclear plant in Lithuania that the country’s voters rejected in a referendum last month.

“The Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant is an important project which will increase the energy security of the region,” the Baltic Council of Ministers and the Baltic Assembly, an inter-parliamentary body, said in a statement today after a meeting in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

In a non-binding referendum held on Oct. 14, almost 63 percent of Lithuanian voters rejected the plan to replace the defunct Ignalina nuclear plant near the town of Visaginas with a new one to cut dependence on Russian energy. Elections that ended on Oct. 28 were won by the Social Democrats, who opposed the project and seek to form a coalition government.

While a final decision must be made by Lithuania’s parliament and government, the Visaginas project is sound in terms of security, safety and economics, the Baltic gathering including Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in the joint statement.

The three countries also pledged to collaborate on other regional energy and transport projects, and to defend common positions in negotiations about the European Union budget.

Separately, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said canceling the Visaginas project “would mean a refusal to proceed down the route we have agreed with the United States and the European Commission” and could be misunderstood by international partners, according to an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net; James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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