February 10th, 2014

President signs law on expanding Paks nuclear power plant

President Janos Ader has signed a law on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, according to a statement from the president’s office on Monday.

The president said in the statement that there was nothing in the law, from the point of view of the constitution, that could be considered objectionable, or any point on which it deserved to be sent back to lawmakers for reconsideration.

Ader also examined the issue of whether the law should be put to a referendum after a request by the opposition, and determined that, on the basis of the constitution, there was no basis for holding a plebiscite in the case of an obligation deriving from an international contract.

“Such an initiative is beyond the bounds of any citizen, and this includes the president himself,” Ader said in the statement.

Ader said that as with every law, he had scrutinised the Paks law from a constitutional point of view in great detail. As the President of Hungary he swore an oath to help uphold the constitutional order.

“Since my election, this was my only guidance with every decision. I will do the same in future, and no petitioning, street demonstrations, blackmail or holding of the national flag hostage can deter me,” he said, referring to left-wing opposition demonstrations.

Lawmakers endorsed the agreement to upgrade the Paks nuclear plant with the construction of two new blocks on Thursday, amid protest by LMP lawmakers in the chamber. Opposition Socialist and LMP lawmakers as well as several independents voted against the law. Deputies of the Democratic Coalition (DK) left the chamber during the vote.

The agreement on the Paks project was signed in Moscow on Jan. 14 in the presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The upgrade is set to be financed from a 10-billion-euro Russian loan to be repaid over 21 years at a variable interest rate of 3.95-4.9 percent.

The agreement will involve maintaining and upgrading the output of the Paks nuclear plant, including planning, building and installing two new blocks with 1,000 MW of in-built capacity, which is intended to replace the four existing blocks in the future.

Opposition parties and civil organisations have protested the Paks upgrade and asked Ader not to sign the law.

On Sunday, activists of the E14-PM alliance scaled the presidential palace and put up banners calling for a referendum on Paks.

The opposition Unity alliance said earlier it would hold a demonstration on Monday evening to press Ader not to sign the law.

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  • ViktorZoroban

    Another job well done, Mr. President! That’s why we call you the Charles Bronson of Csorna!!

  • Zeb

    I just don’t get the problem here. Is it because Orban seems to suffering from historical amnesia and running to the Russians who lorded over their Hungarian vassal only a mere 26 years ago or so. Or is it nuclear power in general? I would have thought that nuclear was a far better option in terms of maintaining energy security than relying on the EU backward assed policy of building more polluting coal powered stations, as well as relying on Russian gas where the tap is in Russia. Being saddled with a financial debt is surely safer than having no energy. Besides, the number or companies/countries that are able to build nuclear power stations is extremely limited. I believe there are only about 14 companies in the world that are involved in building these stations and they are in Canada, China,Czech Republic, France , Germany, Russia, Spain, USA and Japan.

    I do get the notion that this is potentially a smart move by Orban to get around the stifling meddling that the EU Parliament and Commission might throw Hungary’s way.

    Why the socialists are complaining, I don’t know.

    • Voiceofreason

      I think it is the fact that the finance deal is too good to be true. And Mr Putin does not do charity – so clearly he expects something in return. And we don’t know what.

      • “the finance deal is too good to be true”

        And then your side has been/is wailing about that how detrimental this financial deal is for Hungary… 😀

      • FUCeausescu

        Yes, he expects something in return. It is called not Shunning the Russians, which the West seems too eager to do in business. Rosatom is poised to become the biggest NPP builder on the planet. Eventually some western companies will go out of business and that will benefit them. A good deal also benefits Hungary. It does not have to be a zero sum game.

        • Justanobservation

          If you think that Putin really gives a rats ass who shuns them you are very naive! There is definitely more to it than that and unfortunately for those of us in Hungary, we will find out before you do.

          • FUCeausescu

            I don’t know whether you are aware of this, but just a month before Hungary announced the deal, Finland signed a similar expansion deal with Rosatom. What makes you think that Hungary’s deal is much different, or that Hungary made some extra concesions? Or are the Finns about to get a Red Army garrison stationed on their territory as well?

          • Voiceofreason

            Did the Japanese prime minister discuss the deal with parliament before it was signed? Was there a public consultation? Did he disclose the details of the deal to the public? Or did he just make this important strategic decision in private without consultation?

          • Justanobservation

            It is not the fact that there is a deal, the problem, is that it was not debated or discussed with the citizens, it was shrouded in secrecy and that to us means that we are being screwed in one way or another. The Fin deal was discussed and debated for 10 months prior to the deal.

    • Reality Check

      Maybe many complain (not just socialists) because it’s a bad deal?

      “Hungary’s government does not want to disclose the detailed estimates for the Paks nuclear reactor construction project because these forecast rising electricity prices and massive losses”


      “Hungary does not need a nuclear power plant, but also that the two new blocks will be extremely expensive and that Rosatom is not a “fairy godmother” to provide Hungary cheap financing because it suddenly felt an irresistible urge to be charitable. ”


      “the investment may not only boost public debt, but also the general government deficit, which might force the cabinet to make yet another fiscal adjustment”


      • Nice kitty!! 🙂

      • Zeb

        Cheers for the articles.

      • Zeb

        Sadly the Portfolio.hu paywall prevents me from seeing all the articles, but sure, I recognize objections and issues that are being raised..

        These kinds of projects are massive and require huge resources and in many cases overrun their costs. This means risk naturally. There are so many different balls being juggled here that the issue has become clouded and many different interest groups are trying to shout their loudest.

        For me I couldn’t care less about “emotional”/historical issues, instead the keys issues here are energy security and economic viability. However the spanner in the works is the question: how can you realistically project costs, prices, interest rates etc for something that will not be online for another 10 years or so, maybe even 12 or 15. Who knows? There is so much unpredictability.

        I am no fan of the EU either, yet they have their interests too which are equally significant to Hungary.

        Yet, I also recognize that if 40% of the work is done in Hungary, I wonder who will get what contracts. No tender for the project as a whole is one thing, no tenders for contractors is another. With a project as long as this one, it doesn’t really matter too much who the next government will be if you have a juicy contract on the project.

        There are many ways this can be spun.

        Again thanks for the links.

        • Reality Check

          It is not a paywall, all you have to do is register.

        • Reality Check

          Not a firewall, just need to register with portfolio.hu

    • FUCeausescu

      Zeb, we can ask the same question about Hungary moving to the West. Do they suffer amnesia and forgot how for their own strategic considerations they re-drew the map in the region in 1918 in a way that condemned 1/3 of all ethnic Hungarians to be living as a minority in hostile territory, thus condemned to be treated as doormats generation after generation until extinction will finally put an end to it. I’d say the damage done to Hungarians in the 20’th century is much greater and more permanent in nature if we look at the west, compared to the Russians. If we are to follow this idiotic reasoning Hungary would have relations only with some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

      As far as the deal itself, we should look at the case of Romania where they have been dancing around with private sector partnerships for a similar project plan since 2010. All six initial partners have since pulled out and there is no deal on the horizon for their own NPP expansion. Basically, the main attraction of this contract is the fact that it comes with its own financing, which Hungary might have had to pay way more interest if they would have gone to the market for credit. Or it is possible that after much dancing around with potential private sector partners, they would have had the same result as Romanians did.

      • wolfi

        Whatever comes up – whining about Trianon sems to be the answer for the loonies …

        Re your numbers: wiki says there were only about 10 mio people speaking Hungarian in 1911. So something must be wrong there …

        • Justanobservation

          I also just asked my friend who used to live in Romania as a ethnic Hungarian in Transylvania and immigrated from there in 1987 to Canada and is now back in Romania. She said that where she is from, it was all Hungarian people. They did learn Romanian in case they ever decided to leave the region. Everything there was Hungarian, the town sign, all the shops, the street names and they spoke Hungarian at school, work and never had any problems with the Romanian government. The demographic since has changed in her area, not because the Romanian government has forced it, but because many of the young people have left her region for work and it has become a largely retirement community. It is no longer ALL Hungarian, but its Hungarian roots are still very prevalent. The problem that she sees as a very big issue is the fact that many who originate from the area NEVER learned Romanian. They thought they would be able to continue that way forever, never thinking about its consequences. Those are the Hungarians that complain about being “assimilated”, but what they refuse to realize is that regardless of the fact that it once was Hungary, they should have prepared themselves for the possibility of things changing since they are actually in Romania. Her family prepared her for that change, she says that today, yes, not all her neighbors are Hungarian, but the town still honors the Hungarian past. Because the majority of that town is no longer Hungarian, they have changed the street signs and store signs etc. because Romanians in Romania should not be expected to learn Hungarian. Now if she can have this feeling why do we have cry babies like FUC?

          • FUCeausescu

            Sounds to me like your friend is from the Harghita or Covasna Counties where there is still a Hungarian majority.

            It feels very different if you are a Hungarian coming from the town of Gyulafehervar (Alba Iulia) for example, where in 1918 half the population was ethnic Hungarian, while now they make up a whole 1% of the population.

            Your friend mentioned that Hungarians did not bother to learn Romanian? In Harghita and Covasna, which were left last on the homogenization list that may be true to some extent. In my case, by the time I was born, there was no longer a Hungarian-language kindergarten or school and as I mentioned, Romanian population increased from 15% in 1918, to over 90% currently. The only reason I learned Hungarian was because my parents sent me to live with my grandmother in an ethnic Hungarian village, where there was also a kindergarden I attended. Otherwise, despite their efforts to speak Hungarian in the household and try to teach me, the fact that outside the house I only heard people speak Romanian made me shun Hungarian language. Sounds very different from your friend’s experience doesn’t it? It is in fact the typical experience outside the two counties that still have a Hungarian majority.

            So, you say the fact that the region where I was born and grew up was completely homogenized and all evidence that Hungarians, Germans and Serbs lived there before has been erased and I complain about it makes me a “crybaby”, then why the F where you throwing in my face the sufferings of Kertesz as a reason for him to not only complain, but unlike myself also spew the venom in his literature against Hungarian people, which is fit for 1930’s National Socialist rallies if we only replace the word Hungarians with the word Jew in a few instances? Is he not a “crybaby”?

          • Justanobservation

            I apologize for offending you, however, I do believe sending people to their deaths is far less forgivable than what you say you experienced. Also, I do not care which country it is, if your borders are within that country, then you must speak that language. The Romanian government has protected the Hungarian heritage in many cases and if that is not enough, then I guess the only other option would have been to migrate to Hungary. Is it all that terrible that if you are living in Romania, to somehow work within the framework you are given? If your parents/grandparents were not successful in teaching you the Hungarian language, that is not the fault of Romania! She is from the area near Cluj.

      • Zeb

        Of course we can ask that same question. Europe as a whole, the EU, and other organizations brush aside national interests for the greater good at a given moment. Trianon affects no-one except Hungary and a sideline affair for neigbouring countries.

        Like I said there are too many unpredictables over a 10-15 (let’s be realistic here) year time frame for anyone to measure costs accurately. There are too many unknown variables: another war in the middle east in 5 years time, industrial disasters … who knows.

        You can only strike a deal with the given circumstances at a particular point in time. The question remains: is it a good deal?

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