I want to share my thoughts and feelings about my trip to Lithuania, where Greenpeace is helping local NGOs to be heard about the risks of nuclear energy ahead of Sunday’s national referendum on whether or not the country needs a new nuclear power plant.
The Greenpeace airship urges the people of Lithuania to say "NO!" to nuclear power in Sunday's referendum (©Greenpace/Vidmantas Balkunas)
It is my first visit to the country. Given that the government has refused to allow Belarusian anti-nuclear activists into the country to campaign on the referendum, I was somewhat concerned about constant police control. I can´t tell if there is strong control or if it just isn’t visible.
The government’s actions raise the question: is it really the people´s vote?
I have not been surprised that the government is trying to manipulate the public on the questions of nuclear safety and finances. Especially now, with the referendum on the same day as parliamentary elections.
The government’s manipulative behaviour is so typical. Politicians push their nuclear agenda using all the misinformation on offer: this reactor will be safe, because it´s modern western technology, it will provide secure energy security, it will be cheaper than other sources, it will help with tackling climate change.
It will be interesting to see what Lithuanians really think about nuclear power. What I´ve learned here is that the government has been doing its best to silence or make fun of all nuclear opposition.
If the public says NO to this dangerous technology, it will be a victory not only for the future security of Lithuania but also for the whole continent. It will prove that people will not be misinformed forever.
I´m keeping my fingers crossed that the referendum will provide a nice surprise. The outcome is very important especially for small countries in Central and Eastern Europe that think having nuclear will make them somewhat important on the world map.
Even though Greenpeace doesn´t have an office in Lithuania, I´m glad we came here to tell the public that it´s okay to say NO to nuclear, because it´s not a safe and not a smart option for Lithuania.
Andrea Zlatňanská is an energy campaigner for Greenpeace CEE Slovakia