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Decision on Belarusian-Lithuanian dispute delayed till next Espoo Convention meeting

Society 16.06.2017 | 20:18
Iya Malkina. An archive photo
Iya Malkina. An archive photo

MINSK, 16 June (BelTA) – The decision on the Belarusian-Lithuanian dispute will be made during the next session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention, BelTA learned from Belarusian First Deputy Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Iya Malkina after the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention on 16 June.

The official said: “A consolidated decision has been made in favor of continuing discussing the so-called country-specific matters. All the matters revolving around specific disputes between countries — Belarus and Lithuania, Armenia and Azerbaijan, the UK, the Ukrainian issue — have been postponed till the additional session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention that will take place in late 2018 – early 2019. That session will review the matters we've been discussing for so long during this session. We hope that taking into account the additional information the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee will acquire, we will be able to at last see some final reports of the committee on these situations.”

The official noted that, all in all, Belarus is satisfied with results of the seventh session. “A great deal of alternative points of view were expressed. Each side tried to get across its own point of view. There is no doubt that finding a compromise was difficult. Yet we are satisfied with the position of the European Union, which once again demonstrated its readiness for a dialogue with all countries. In particular, no hasty decisions were made to address our issue. I think it will allow us in the near future to more productively implement the events we've already announced with regard to the environmental safety of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. It will also allow us to deal with other matters concerning the nuclear power plant's construction,” noted the official.

Iya Malkina said that most of the items on the agenda had been addressed by the seventh session and final decisions had been made. “Those are matters relating to the determination of financial aid instruments within the framework of the Espoo Convention. Then there was the adoption of the Minsk declaration, which mentioned the positive experience of hosting a meeting of the parties to the convention in Minsk among other things. Apart from that, proposals have been made to expand the experience of the committee's work onto interaction with other countries,” she noted.

The Belarusian first deputy natural resources and environmental protection minister said that new working bodies were elected during the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention. “It is important for Belarus that a representative of our environmental protection ministry will continue working as part of the next Espoo Convention Implementation Committee. A Belarus representative has also been elected to the Working Group [on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment]. It means that we are now part of the Espoo Convention Bureau. These are three working bodies and Belarus is represented in each of them. It is important for us because it will allow us to more effectively cooperate with other parties to the convention. We hope that in the future it will have a positive effect on discussions about specific debatable matters inside the convention,” she explained.

Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk noted that his ministry's delegation was also satisfied with results of the session in Minsk. “It is a result of the work we've been doing together with the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the previous session,” concluded the deputy energy minister. In the last three years Belarus successfully hosted a SEED mission and received high praise from the IAEA, reminded the official. The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) also expressed a high opinion.

The 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention took place in Minsk on 13-16 June. About 200 people representing 45 countries parties to the Espoo Convention took part in the events. Among them were ministers and deputy ministers of environmental protection ministries and other agencies, high-ranking officials of international organizations and financial institutions, representatives of the general 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.

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