Prime Minister: Lithuania will need new referendum on nuclear power plant

"The referendum was held (a year ago) on the construction of a nuclear power plant and a specific project, with estimates provided as to how much that facility should cost to Lithuania. You've probably heard that its cost is already markedly lower than that estimated by the previous government. But I think that another referendum will be needed and we'll have to ask people for their opinion," he said on Žinių Radijas.


Butkevičius said that a new referendum could annul the results of that held in October 2012, but underlined the importance of making all the necessary information available to the general public.


"My logic would be exactly the same, but first of all, we have to understand that the public has to be told very clearly about the possible price and risks and about the requirements from the investors, regional partners," he said when asked if the new referendum would annul the results of the old referendum.


A majority of Lithuanian voters did not back the project in the non-binding referendum, which was held in tandem with general elections on October 14, 2012. Some 34.09 percent of those who cast ballots said "yes" to building a nuclear power plant and 62.68 percent said "no". The voter turnout was 52.58 percent.


Lithuanian prime minister expects common sense to prevail in talks with Gazprom


Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Tuesday that the government has not yet received Gazprom's responses to Lithuania's latest proposals, but added that negotiations with the Russian gas supplier continued and that he hoped that "common sense" would prevail.


"We are now waiting for Gazprom's response, because we have sent a letter providing our answers to previously held talks and their wishes and requests submitted in writing after the talks. We expect to have those answers (from Gazprom) in the near future. Our aim is to negotiate a fairer price, which means a lower gas price for Lithuania," Butkevičius said on LRT Radio.


"We continue the negotiations despite the start of the heating season. We hope that common sense will prevail, because we can see from an analysis performed that natural gas is sold to other countries at lower prices," he added.


Lithuania sent its latest negotiating proposals to Gazprom on September 25. Energy Minister Jaroslav Neverovič, the head of Lithuania's negotiation team, said earlier that Lithuania and Gazprom had not come to an agreement yet.


Unofficial sources said in early August that in exchange for cheaper gas from Gazprom, Lithuania might drop its lawsuits asking for a probe into the activities of Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) and its management, as well as a 5-billion-litas (EUR 1.45bn) arbitration claim filed in Stockholm against the Russian supplier.


The sources also said that, depending on the size of discounts, Lithuania could also agree to a new long-term gas supply contract for 2013-2020 and a standalone agreement regulating the transit of gas to Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.