Feb 03, 2017

PM Orbán and President Putin focus on energy talks during Budapest meeting

President Putin said that, if necessary, Russia could raise its loan to fully cover the costs of the 12-billion euro Paks nuclear power project

International news headlines were today dominated by the meeting between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Putin in Budapest.

Global news outlets, the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, along with the AP and Reuters news agencies, lead with stories focusing on the prospective energy projects between the two nations, and other issues facing the partnership.

PM Orbán deplored the West's "anti-Russian policies," which he said hurt Hungary's trade with Russia and cost some 6.7 billion USD in lost export opportunities.

"It's wrong to try to settle problems unrelated to the economy with economic methods," PM Orbán said in a reference to Western sanctions against Russia. "The world is changing, helping improve conditions for cooperation between Russia and Europe."

President Putin, meanwhile, hailed Hungary as "an important and reliable European partner for Russia."

According to AP,  PM Orbán and President Putin talked about the possibility of extending prospective Russian pipelines to Hungary, but the prospective Nord Stream II and the Turkish Stream pipelines are still in the planning phase.

President Putin vowed that one way or another, Russia would find a way to supply Hungary with the gas it needs. Russian supplies now account for at least 60 percent of Hungary's gas consumption.

"We will do everything to ensure supplies to Hungary," Putin said.

The deal for Russia to build two additional reactors at the Paks nuclear plant, which was struck two years ago, still hasn't taken off the ground because of the EU's regulatory demands. PM Orbán voiced hope that the last remaining obstacles will be removed and construction could finally start.

Putin said that, if necessary, Russia could raise its loan to fully cover the costs of the 12-billion euro project.

The plant, launched in the 1980s, now accounts for about 40 percent of Hungary's energy consumption and new reactors will allow it to double its output, Putin said.