Hungary says in EU talks over nuclear project, deal 'in weeks'
Hungary said Friday it expected EU objections over its planned nuclear project with Russia to be resolved 'in a matter of weeks', and called a newspaper report that the deal had been blocked 'false'.
The Financial Times newspaper reported Thursday that EU nuclear body Euratom has refused Hungary's plans to import nuclear fuel from Russia in a decision backed by the European Commission, scuppering the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Budapest.
The report is "false and completely misleading," Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told reporters Friday.
"Our expectation is that, following intensive negotiations, the fuel supply contract will be finalised in line with Euratom requirements in a matter of weeks," Kovacs said.
"Ongoing talks do not block the project," he added.
Hungary's EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics however told Hungarian news portal Index.hu Thursday that Euratom's proposal to block the deal because the importing of nuclear fuel exclusively from Russia ran counter to EU rules had been approved by the Commission without a vote.
The planned 12.5 billion euro ($13.2 billion) expansion of Hungary's sole nuclear plant, which provides 40 percent of the electricity needs of the EU member, was to be financed largely with a Russian loan.
It was to be carried out by Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom, with construction of two 1,200 MW reactors set to begin in 2018.
"The EU accepted the contract when it was signed, only the fuel delivery is blocked by Euratom, not the overall expansion," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov told AFP on Friday.
"The conflict is between Hungary and the EU," he added.
The project was seen as a sign of increasingly close ties between Budapest and the Kremlin under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and had caused concerns in the EU amid tensions over conflict in Ukraine.
"If the Russians now refuse to modify the original contracts, this will be the end of the road for the project," Benedek Javor, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament's Green group, told AFP.
According to him Euratom "is very clear that the fuel supply agreement does not comply with European law," Javor said.
© 2015 AFP