President signs law on expanding Paks nuclear power plant

Monday, February 10, 2014

President Janos Ader has signed a law on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, according to a statement from the president’s office on Monday.

The president said in the statement that there was nothing in the law, from the point of view of the constitution, that could be considered objectionable, or any point on which it deserved to be sent back to lawmakers for reconsideration.

Ader also examined the issue of whether the law should be put to a referendum after a request by the opposition, and determined that, on the basis of the constitution, there was no basis for holding a plebiscite in the case of an obligation deriving from an international contract.

“Such an initiative is beyond the bounds of any citizen, and this includes the president himself,” Ader said in the statement.

Ader said that as with every law, he had scrutinised the Paks law from a constitutional point of view in great detail. As the President of Hungary he swore an oath to help uphold the constitutional order.

“Since my election, this was my only guidance with every decision. I will do the same in future, and no petitioning, street demonstrations, blackmail or holding of the national flag hostage can deter me,” he said, referring to left-wing opposition demonstrations.

Lawmakers endorsed the agreement to upgrade the Paks nuclear plant with the construction of two new blocks on Thursday, amid protest by LMP lawmakers in the chamber. Opposition Socialist and LMP lawmakers as well as several independents voted against the law. Deputies of the Democratic Coalition (DK) left the chamber during the vote.

The agreement on the Paks project was signed in Moscow on Jan. 14 in the presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The upgrade is set to be financed from a 10-billion-euro Russian loan to be repaid over 21 years at a variable interest rate of 3.95-4.9 percent.

The agreement will involve maintaining and upgrading the output of the Paks nuclear plant, including planning, building and installing two new blocks with 1,000 MW of in-built capacity, which is intended to replace the four existing blocks in the future.

Opposition parties and civil organisations have protested the Paks upgrade and asked Ader not to sign the law.

On Sunday, activists of the E14-PM alliance scaled the presidential palace and put up banners calling for a referendum on Paks.

The opposition Unity alliance said earlier it would hold a demonstration on Monday evening to press Ader not to sign the law.

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