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Croatia, Slovenia's nuclear plant safe: Croatian president

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(VILNIUS) - A communist-era nuclear power plant that Croatia shares with Slovenia is safe, Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic insisted Monday during a visit to Lithuania.

"There are no official requirements to close this nuclear plant because it's very safe," Josipovic told reporters at a press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite.

"We are watching the situation constantly, and guarantees for our security and for the security of our neighbors are very firm," he added.

Croatia has a share in a plant at Krsko, Slovenia, which came online in the 1980s when the two republics were part of Yugoslavia and provides 15 percent of Croatia's electricity.

The plant was built with help from the United States, as Yugoslavia steered between the West and the Soviet Union.

The facility, long under fire from environmentalists in neighbouring Austria, is back in the spotlight as the nuclear crisis in Japan raises jitters about the global atomic sector.

The plant lies on European Union territory -- Slovenia joined in 2004 -- and so is subject to "stress tests" agreed last week by the 27-nation bloc.

"The plant will be monitored and the details will be available to all. Croatia, just like its neighbour, has pledged to guarantee security and keep the public informed," Grybauskaite said.

Lithuania has been pushing for checks on the nuclear industry to cover neighbouring non-EU nations, and has expressed repeated concerns about plans for plants in Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad territory, near its borders.

Lithuania shut down its only nuclear plant -- a communist-era facility -- in 2009 under the terms of its European Union entry.

It aims to build a new one by 2020 with Poland and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Estonia.

Lithuania is a staunch supporter of EU membership for other states from the former communist bloc, and Josipovic's visit focused on Croatia's drive to join the bloc.

Croatia hopes to join the EU in 2012, and Josipovic reaffirmed that it aimed to wrap up accession talks by June this year.

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