The Espoo Convention is designed for resolving disputes on mutually acceptable terms, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Deputy Executive Secretary Andrei Vasilyev told the media on the sidelines of the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention in Minsk on 15 June.
As he commented on UNECE's position regarding the dispute over the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, Andrei Vasilyev noted that UNECE is attending the session to monitor the compliance with the procedures. “We have no preferences or bias, we are absolutely neutral. The process [of reviewing the draft decisions of the session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention on compliance], no doubt, is a complex one, and I would not say that the Belarusian-Lithuanian issue is our only focus,” Andrei Vasilyev emphasized.
He said that the agenda for the session also includes matters involving Ukraine and Romania, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the United Kingdom. “These issues arise and get settled. Unfortunately, sometimes there is too much politics involved. The Espoo Convention is an instrument designed to help countries to find cooperation mechanisms for resolving problems on mutually acceptable terms. However, today legislative tools are often used for some kind of politicization. It is unlikely that this can contribute to progress,” Andrei Vasilyev stressed.
The seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention is running in Minsk on 13-16 June. About 200 people representing 45 countries parties to the Espoo Convention are taking part in the events. Among them are ministers and deputy ministers of environmental protection ministries and other agencies, high-ranking officials of international organizations and financial institutions, and members of the public.
The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context was adopted in Espoo, Finland on 25 February 1991 to come into force on 10 September 1997. It has been ratified by 45 countries. The Espoo Convention obliges the signatories to carry out an environmental impact assessment of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down general obligations of the parties to the Convention to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration if such projects are likely to adversely affect the environment beyond national borders.