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Albania opposes closure of Bulgarian nuclear reactors

30 January 2007, 00:26 CET

(TIRANA) - Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha on Monday urged Brussels to reconsider its stance on the closure of two Bulgarian nuclear reactors, saying the region needed electricity.

Bulgaria shut down the two nuclear reactors at its Kozloduy plant on December 31 as part of a requirement to join the European Union and receive 570 million euros in compensation.

"We appeal the European Union to re-examine this Bulgarian obligation because such a move in reality harms the regional energy market," Berisha told reporters after meeting his Bulgarian counterpart Sergei Stanishev.

"We hope that our voice and that of other countries in the region that have serious problems will be heard to ensure electric energy after the closure of the two reactors," said the Albanian leader.

Albania has faced increasing problems in recent years to ensure enough eletricity to satisfy its energy needs.

Stanishev said that following the closures, Bulgaria was unable to assist Albania "because it cannot export energy with only two active reactors at the nuclear plant."

"The consequences of the closures will be felt not only in Albania, but also in Greece and other countries in the region," said Stanishev.

Bulgaria has said it would ask the European Union for permission to restart the two closed reactors.

Bulgaria, which joined the European Union on January 1, was one of the Balkans' main energy suppliers, exporting some 7.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006.

It mothballed its two oldest 440-megawatt reactors, 1 and 2, in 2002 but these have yet to be dismantled. Sofia then shut down two other old but revamped 440-megawatt blocs, 3 and 4, in order to secure EU accession in 2007.

Only the two most modern 1,000-megawatt reactors remain in operation at Kozloduy and there are no plans to close them down. Bulgaria plans to build a second nuclear plant in Belene in the north of the country in 2013.

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