Poland hopes for progress in talks with Czechs over Turow mine

WARSAW, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Poland hopes to make progress in negotiations with the new Czech government over the open-pit lignite Turow mine near the border, Poland's prime minister said on Tuesday, referring to the most serious spat between the two European Union members in decades.

The European Union's top court told Poland to halt operations at the Turow mine on the border with the Czech Republic after Prague complained of environmental damage in Czech villages, which would also mean closing a nearby power plant.

Poland has so far defied the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) order from May.

"...we absolutely do not intend to stop the operations of the mine, the operations of the power plant. The mine and the power plant provide electricity, heat to hundreds of thousands of Polish households," Mateusz Morawiecki said.

"...it is possible to end this dispute amicably with the Czech side...I hope that in January these negotiations will move forward, maybe even earlier, but I would not like to anticipate the facts here," he added.

In November, the Czech environment ministry said a new proposal from Poland on the settlement of a dispute was unacceptable, adding it would have to be discussed with the incoming government formed earlier this month following October's election.

Reporting by Anna Koper, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Barbara Lewis

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