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Belarus questions Espoo Convention efficiency following Geneva meeting

Society 08.02.2019 | 11:48
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus

MINSK, 8 February (BelTA) – The trust in the Espoo Convention was undermined when the Geneva Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention claimed that Belarus allegedly failed to provide “sufficient” information to the public to justify the choice of the Ostrovets site as the location for building the Belarusian nuclear power plant, reads a release posted on the website of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus.

“Lithuania's unconstructive and politically motivated position on the BelNPP location prevented the parties from establishing fruitful partnerships within the framework of the bilateral agreement on fulfilling the Espoo Convention. Belarus has gone to extraordinary lengths to defend its position and tried to get the draft decision on the BelNPP approved by a consensus,” the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection said.

As a result of the two-day consultations, the European Union member states did not demonstrate willingness reach a compromise. “Apart from that, there was an exceptional disregard for the established rules and pressure on all the participants. The parties to the Espoo Convention taking part in the meeting took up a counterproductive and discriminatory stance on Belarus, though they acknowledged a possibility of various approaches and practices of drafting and implementing the environmental impact assessment documents in the member states. Such an attitude undermines trust in the Convention fulfillment mechanism and questions its efficiency at large,” the ministry said.

Belarus is a staunch supporter of the Espoo Convention's initial approach to compliance verification that prioritized transparency and openness of procedures. Taking into consideration the principle of the sovereign equality of states that is enshrined in the UN Charter, Belarus' delegation warned against making hasty decisions that could encroach on sovereign rights of any of its participants. Belarus' delegation stated that final decisions should be made by a consensus.

“Today's precedent has legalized the manipulation of the Convention. Bringing the discussion to voting which results were obvious beforehand (the European Union votes as a single bloc of 28 countries no matter how many EU member states attend a meeting) before other ways to reach a consensus where exhausted, they seriously undermined the trust in the Convention and the rationale for being party to it. The Ministry of National Resources and Environmental Protection proceeds from the fact that non-consensus decisions cannot and will not be important for the parties to the Convention,” the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection said.

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