FT backs Paks story as govʼt threatens suit


Despite the governmentʼs threat of a lawsuit today, the Financial Times is not going to correct its report from Thursday that the European Commission would block the plan for supplying fuel to the upgraded Paks nuclear power plant if Hungary does not allow for suppliers besides Russia. 

"We absolutely stand behind the story. The content has been confirmed by several sources," said the author, Financial Times correspondent Andrew Byrne.

Peter Spiegel, the Financial Times Brussels bureau chief, added: "As you might expect, we stand behind the story. Itʼs worth noting nearly every other news organization has subsequently reported the same thing."

Government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács told Hungarian news agency MTI today that the government would sue the Financial Times if the UK daily did not correct its story, which reported that the European Commission said it would oppose the existing plan for supplying fuel to Hungaryʼs sole nuclear plant in Paks after its upgrade.

On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that the European Commission opposed the Paks fuel-supply contract because Euratom rejected a plan to allow for exclusive fuel supplies from Russia.

On Friday, both Kovács and State Secretary András Giró-Szász originally denied the validity of the report and said the government demanded an explanation from the Financial Times. However, Tibor Navracsics, the Hungarian who is EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Leisure and Sport, confirmed the EC decision to Hungarian online daily

Also on Friday, EC spokesperson for energy affairs Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said that Brussels wanted to find a solution to the problem. But she added that the Commission was concerned that the fuel would be supplied exclusively from Russia, and said that this part of the arrangement should be changed.

Government officials have said they are currently developing a plan to change the part of the deal that would have made Russia the exclusive supplier of fuel to Paks, so that there can be more than one supplier.

According to Thursdayʼs Financial Times story: "In the end, Euratom refused to approve Hungary’s plans to import nuclear fuel exclusively from Russia. Hungary appealed against the decision but, according to three people close to the talks, the European Commission has now thrown its weight behind Euratom’s rejection of the contract. ... The result is to block the whole Paks II expansion. To revive it, Hungary would need to negotiate a new fuel contract or pursue legal action against the commission."

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