Poland, Czech Republic want to reach accord on mine issue

The environment ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic have said that both countries want to reach an agreement in their dispute over a Polish lignite mine in Turow.

A Polish delegation arrived in Prague on Thursday to begin negotiations over the mine. The Czech government has gone to European Court of Justice (CJEU) to get the mine, which lies close to the Czech border, closed owing to environmental concerns.

In a preliminary ruling, the court demanded that the mine cease operations.

"The goal is an agreement, not a court battle," said Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec at a press conference on Thursday with his Polish counterpart.

He added that the Czech Republic does not want the mine, operated by Poland's state-controlled electric power distribution company PGE, to cease operations.

"We do not have such legitimacy. Poland has the right to make decisions about its energy mix," said Brabec, adding that conditions are needed which will allow mining to continue but at the same time minimise its impact on the environment and the inhabitants of the region.

"We are considering the possibility of withdrawing the Turow complaint from the CJEU if Poland meets the conditions," stated the minister.

Polish Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka said: "What unites us is our common will to achieve a bilateral, stable agreement without involving EU institutions."

Poland has so far refused to shut down Turow, calling the court's decision "disproportionate" and a threat to the stability of the country's energy system.

On Monday, the Czech Republic sent to Poland a draft inter-government agreement on the mine, according to the Czech environment minister, who did not disclose the details of the proposed deal.