Slovakian government defies EU to reopen nuclear plant

January 11th, 2009 - 6:37 am ICT by IANS  

Bratislava (Slovakia), Jan 11 (DPA) The Slovakian government decided in an extraordinary session Saturday night to reopen its Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant closed at the beginning of the year as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute.”I am aware that we are violating our accession agreement with the European Union (EU) with this decision, and I accept the full political responsibility for it,” Prime Minister Robert Fico said during a press conference broadcast on TA3 TV news channel.

Slovakia had no other choice as it was on the brink of energy collapse, Energy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek said at the same news conference.

“If you ask me how much more time we still have to consider this step, I have to tell you: now is the time,” he said.

Fico and Jahnatek said the “critical point” had been reached when any delay would lead to a total energy blackout in Slovakia.

An EU energy commissioner spokesman in Brussels decried the move and warned Slovakia would be breaking the law.

“It is clear that there is no legal basis for the powering up of Bohunice, and when the government brings the nuclear power plant back into service, it will do so in clear violation of EU law,” Andris Piebalgs said.

The country was currently using up the last of its gas reserves to produce electricity.

Environmental groups had warned against reopening the nuclear plant.

Fico also expected protests from neighbouring Austria over the move, but he said some consideration should be given to the current crisis faced by Slovakia.

Slovakia is dependent on Russian gas transited through Ukraine that has been shut off in a dispute over payments.

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