Illustration - Photo: IAEA

Szijjarto: Paks exempt from EU sanctions

Hungarian interests have been protected in the face of the European Union's latest sanctions package against Russia, as Hungary's nuclear plant in Paks has received full exemption from the measures, allowing works on its expansion to speed up, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Luxembourg on Monday.

Adoption of the 14th package was “the continuation of an utterly failed strategy”, Szijjarto said during a break of a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Hungary had engaged in sharp debates during the preparation period “to protect ourselves, our national interests and energy security”, Szijjarto said, according to a ministry statement.

“We’ve reached the objective of having it stated in this directive that the construction of the new Paks nuclear power plant and all its processes, stages and elements are completely exempted from sanctioning measures,” he said.

“This means that the European companies participating in the investment — and we have many French, German and Austrian companies — will not have to apply for permits from the authorities of member states.”

“This general exemption has created a situation regarding the Paks investment as if there were no war in Ukraine, and the war did not entail sanctions or economic restrictions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said the upcoming Hungarian presidency will focus on speeding up the EU’s enlargement process in the Western Balkans.

Szijjarto said the membership candidates in the region had been waiting for membership for “more than 15 years … because some western European countries continue to hamper the process, citing so-called issues of merit. The same countries are not so meticulous regarding the same merits when it comes to Ukraine.”

He said that was a “mockery” of the enlargement process, adding that Western Balkans countries must be assessed “realistically, pragmatically, and not on an ideological basis”.

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