Referendum sole opportunity for Hungarians to state opinion on Paks nuclear upgrade

Referendum sole opportunity for Hungarians to state opinion on Paks nuclear upgrade

Opposition LMP sees a referendum as the only chance for Hungarians to thwart the “corrupt project” to expand the Paks nuclear plant, the party’s co-leader said after the European Commission greenlighted the Russian-backed investment on Monday.

LMP’s co-leader Bernadett Szél told a press conference that Brussels had “fallen to its knees” before an international coalition “formed in the shadow of the nuclear lobby” by Hungary’s Orbán government and Russian President Vladimir Putin whose aim was to “ruin” Hungary.

LMP has called on the public to start collecting signatures in order to ensure that the campaign gets under way as soon as the National Election Committee clears any of the party’s questions submitted in connection with the Paks project. LMP has submitted ten questions so far and is open to further suggestions from the public, she said. At the same press conference, LMP board member Péter Ungár rejected legal arguments made by “institutions close to [ruling] Fidesz” that Hungarian laws prohibit calling a referendum on matters governed by an international agreement. In a previous referendum initiative on EU migrant quotas, the election committee did not cite the Dublin II regulation when approving a popular vote, he noted. Making reference to an international agreement in this current case would be applying double standards, he added. Hungarians must have the chance to decide whether the source of electricity over the next 30-80 years should be nuclear or much safer renewables, said Ungár. Construction work on the upgrade of Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant is due to start next year.

Orbán, Putin discuss Paks upgrade by phone

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss issues around the planned upgrade of

Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant on Tuesday, the prime minister’s press office told MTI. The call came in the wake of the European Commission’s giving the green light to the upgrade project on Monday. The two leaders also discussed topical issues around bilateral relations, as well as the implementation of agreements signed during Putin’s February 2 visit to Budapest, kremlin.ru, the Russian president’s official site, reported. Putin and Orbán welcomed the EC decision, which has “removed obstacles from adding two new blocks to Hungary’s Paks Nuclear Plant, involving Russian state company Rosatom,” kremlin. ru said. International affairs were also touched upon in the talks, the Russian site added.

Varga: government may need to increase Paks II budget

Almost 100 billion forints (EUR 32.3m) is allocated in this year’s budget to prepare for the upgrade of the Paks nuclear power plant, but the European Commission’s recent approval of the project could raise costs, Economy Minister Mihály Varga said. Government office chief János Lázár believes spending on preparations for the upgrade could come to about 200 billion forints this year, Varga said. If these costs materialize, the government will have to tap budget reserves or call down the Russian credit for the project. The government will use domestic resources to cover the costs as long as they are available, he said.

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