Czech minister says Russian firms should not build nuclear plant

by Reuters
Monday, 3 March 2014 15:53 GMT

PRAGUE, March 3 (Reuters) - Ministers from the two main Czech government parties said on Monday that Russian firms should not be allowed to take part in the expansion of a Czech nuclear power station, worth over $10 billion, after Russian troops seized Ukraine's Crimea region.

The Czechs, members of NATO and the European Union, have said Russian actions in Crimea over the weekend broke international law and government leaders likened the incursion to the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia.

"Russia has disappeared from the group of predictable, democratic countries. What it is doing is unacceptable," the news website quoted Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky as saying.

Stropnicky, a former diplomat from the centrist ANO party, confirmed to Reuters that he could hardly imagine Russian firms taking part in the project after what had happened in Crimea.

A consortium including Russia's Atomstroyexport is bidding to expand the Temelin plant, alongside Toshiba's U.S. unit Westinghouse.

Despite the opening of the tender process, it is not clear that a contract will be awarded in the near term, because low electricity prices currently make nuclear energy economically unviable without some form of state support. However, there is a broad political consensus in the Czech Republic in favour of nuclear energy.

Stropnicky's views were backed by Jiri Dienstbier, minister for human rights from the centre-left Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

"There has been talk about sanctions against Russia. Personally, I cannot imagine that Russians will continue to take part in the tender to expand Temelin because a country that uses military aggression in foreign policy is a security risk for the Czech Republic as well," the news website quoted Dienstbier as saying.

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