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No comment? PM says Paks deal non-issue in Brussels

World

Hungary’s contract on the Paks nuclear power plant upgrade was not mentioned in connection with sanctions against Russia at the EU summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán informed national news service MTI today. Orbán, attending the second day of the summit, said suspending Russia’s contract for the upgrade was not mentioned, and “will not be mentioned” at all.

Russia earlier agreed to lend Hungary €10 billion to build two blocks at the Paks nuclear power plant, covering 80% of the cost. Russian state-owned Rosatom is the general contractor for the blocks.

Orbán stated to MTI that Hungary had weighed the consequences of a potential sanction or trade freeze against Russia on its own industries at the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis: “We have examined everything. … We know our own numbers.”

EU heads of state and government decided late on Thursday to add 12 names to the list of 21 Russian persons against whom travel restrictions and asset freezes will be ordered in response to moves against Ukraine. Further, the EU-Russia summit planned for June has also been cancelled as have upcoming bilateral meetings.

The European Commission has been authorized to look into the possibility of further economic sanctions against Russia if it continues to take steps to destabilize Ukraine.

Foreign Minister: Hungary “planning for worst” with regard to Russian sanctions
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister János Martonyi appeared on CNN’s “Quest Means Business” on Wednesday to comment on sanctions on Russia, saying “We hope there’ll be no need for [stricter sanctions] because this morning we repeated and [reemphasized] that diplomatic and political solutions should be found through negotiations between the parties.”

He added that “If it comes to the so-called third stage of sanctions, of course that is a completely different situation. What we have to do now, I believe, that we have to make a very thorough impact assessment [and] evaluate clearly what might be the consequences and show solidarity among ourselves, given the fact that different member states might be affected differently...”

On preparing for Russian response to sanctions and on the short- to medium-term effects of the ongoing situation in Crimea, Martonyi stated that Hungarian officials were “preparing for the worst,” as Hungary will certainly be among “the more affected countries” vis-à-vis energy supply and the incipient Paks nuclear plant deal.

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