BUDAPEST: The upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant is not solely an energy issue, it is “the largest ever development project” in Hungary’s economy, the foreign minister said at a green forum in St Petersburg on Thursday. Speaking to MTI, Péter Szijjártó welcomed that the project had entered into “an active phase” after it had received overall approval by Brussels.
The next step for Hungary is to prepare the site for two new blocks, which will require one and a half years, he said. He noted that Russia’s Rosatom, the project partner, on Wednesday called a tender for a 770 million euro contract to supply turbines for the new blocks. Szijjártó said he held bilateral talks during the day with the head of Rosatom and the CEO of gas company Gazprom, as well as with Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and Minister of Energy Alexander Novak. He welcomed it as “good news that Hungarian-Russian economic cooperation has started to flourish again” after a period during which Hungarian companies had suffered losses of billions of dollars due to EU sanctions imposed on Russia. Citing statistics, Szijjártó noted that bilateral trade increased by 46.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017 with a volume totalling 1.4 billion dollars. Hungary’s exports to Russia went up by 27.8 percent to 500 million dollars during the period, he said.