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Budapest-Moscow nuclear deal defended

June 30th, 2014

A leading pro-government commentator takes up the defence of the agreement on two new nuclear blocks to be built by Russia’s Rosatom at Paks, as an extension to Hungary’s existing atomic power station. He argues that the project will not plunge Hungary into unmanageable debt. Another conservative analyst agrees that there is no other solution to guarantee the country’s long term energy supply.

In his weekly Demokrata editorial (print edition) András Bencsik rejects as misleading claims by Együtt-PM that the new nuclear plant at Paks will cost each Hungarian citizen 700,000 HUF.  Such claims “show how little the left has to say”. He argues that the Paks project will not cost taxpayers’ money until after it starts operating. By that time, he believes, the electricity produced can be sold on domestic and external markets. Russia’s interest in the deal, he writes, is the opportunity to diversify its exports and find a market for high value added products such as nuclear plants – an area that is dominated by France in the EU. This is why they are providing “an incredibly advantageous deal” by which instalments of the Russian loan only become due after the plant is finished and the Hungarian government can decide to finance its obligations either by selling the generated electricity or through other means.

In Magyar Hírlap, Miklós Lázin warns that the four Paks nuclear blocks will have to be shut down in the 2020s and 2030s and if nothing is done to replace them, Hungary risks facing huge energy shortages. The environmentalists, including LMP, Hungary’s green party, who oppose nuclear energy, would not tolerate a sea of solar panels or huge forests of wind turbines either. Nor would they allow pumped storage hydroelectric schemes to be built, although such plants would be indispensable for a system based on renewable energy resources. In other words, Lázin claims, the greens do want electric energy, but oppose the solutions that could make it available. “We are not fond of nukes either”, he concludes, “but it is still preferable to endless discussions over a series of great ideas doomed from the outset”.

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