Russia will make a major contribution to doubling capacity at Paks, Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant, after a deal signed during a visit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Moscow this week. Russia’s Rosatom will add 2,400 MW to the plant, which currently provides the country with 40% of its electricity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with Orbán that the two new blocks would boost Hungary’s energy independence. Two of the four extant blocks of Paks nuclear power station are set to expire in 2037. Rosatom chief Sergey Kiriyenko said Russia would provide a 30-year loan to finance a major part of the EUR 10-12 billion project.
The deal covers constructing the new blocks, fuel supplies and servicing, Kiriyenko noted. Putin called the agreement “unique”, adding that over 40% of the project would be completed by Hungary. Tuesday’s agreements will contribute to broadening Russia-Hungary ties, he added.
Orbán said the deal was a precondition for continuing and strengthening energy cooperation between Hungary and Russia. Referring to the Soviet-Hungarian energy agreement of 1966, he said it was “one of the few good legacies of communism” and noted that the expansion contract was an “excellent professional deal”.
Hungary’s opposition parties slammed the agreement, saying Orbán had bypassed social and parliamentary consultations. The Gordon Bajnai-led E-PM said the bilateral deal, shrouded in secrecy and containing unknown conditions, was signed without Parliament’s authorisation and was therefore invalid.
In response the ruling Fidesz party said Bajnai has reversed his position on the Paks nuclear power plant since he was prime minister in 2010. Fidesz referred to remarks Bajnai made in 2010 that the renewal of the power plant’s blocks would contribute to the country’s energy security and ensure a safe supply of electricity.
Opposition party LMP called on the government to publish the details of the Moscow agreement. Bernadett Szél, the party’s co-leader, told state news agency MTI that it appeared there was a danger “Viktor Orbán has in effect sold Hungary to the Russians”. She said it was as yet unclear what exactly had been signed in Moscow, and so LMP would do everything within its power to bring the entire text of the agreement out into the open.
Szél said that in a normal country there would be a social and political debate on the issue but this had failed to happen in Hungary. LMP has launched a petition on Facebook and is organising a demonstration, she said.
The E-PM electoral alliance also called for the details of the agreement to be made public. Benedek Jávor, who sits as an independent lawmaker, said that on the basis of Hungarian laws, extant parliamentary decrees and the standpoint of the ombudsman, Orbán had had no right to sign an agreement on “the most important parameters of the expansion”.