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Lázár: Hungary to call down Russian funds for Paks first phase

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The Hungarian government is planning to call down Russian funds by the middle of the year to finance the preparatory phase of the expansion of Hungary’s sole nuclear plant, Cabinet Chief János Lázár said yesterday, according to reports.

During his regular weekly press conference, Lázár said that expenditures related to the Paks upgrade have already been included in the central budgets of 2017, 2018 and 2019, Hungarian news agency MTI reported. Lázár added that for 2017 and 2018 annual costs of the project could be around HUF 250-500 billion, MTI said.

Lázár yesterday noted that the Paks upgrade was discussed at a “strategic level” during Prime Minister Viktor Orbánʼs official visit to Russia on Wednesday, but the parties did not get into specific details on implementation, MTI reported.

Environmentalist NGO Greenpeace on Monday sent a formal notice to the EC objecting to Hungary’s upgrade of Paks, while Energiaklub informed the EC about its objections to the plant on Wednesday.

The Austrian government on February 10 also sent a formal letter of complaint to the European Commission outlining its objections to the Paks upgrade, MTI reported earlier. The Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office said in response that it was not surprised by Austria’s formal objection as it had earlier made similar complaints regarding a power plant in the United Kingdom.

Since coming under investigation by the EC, Hungary has failed to provide sufficient information supporting its argument that a planned upgrade does not confer the power generator with an unfair economic advantage, the European Commission said in a report released on January 12. The government, however, has refuted the report, which describes concerns first officially flagged by the EC in November, according to MTI.

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