So, last Thursday, 31, January 2013, a short working visit of the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, to Moscow took place. In the second half of the day, the Kremlin held its talks with the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. In the course of them, the parties discussed the prospects for the development of Russian-Hungarian cooperation in the trade, economic, energy, financial, cultural and humanitarian spheres. "Orban is waiting for the Russians back" entitled the leading Hungarian publication Népszabadság to publish its publication on this event. The Hungarians noted with satisfaction that the last visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister to Moscow was not marked by Putin’s any complaints about the Hungarian Prime Minister for what had happened before and due to the latter’s fault in Hungarian-Russian relations. Hungarian observers particularly noted the fact that Orban himself did not mention any rhetoric in Moscow that the Russians might not like. Moreover, as HVG believes in unison with the opinion of a Hungarian blogger, during his visit to Moscow, Orban behaved with the President of the Russian Federation like a gentle cat with a host.
However, Russia does not place Hungary among its strategic partners, and Hungarian experts recognize this fact. Moreover, specific episodes in mutual relations in 2008-2011 showed their conflict. Therefore, the preparation of Orban’s visit to Moscow remained almost unnoticed in the Russian media. As for Hungary itself, here in the opposition media there was a certain uncertainty about the prospects for Orban’s visit to Russia. Anxiety in the expectations was directly related to the previous visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister to Moscow 30 on November 2010 of the year, marked by fruitless negotiations with Putin. The subject of negotiations then became the conflicting themes of Russian investment in Hungary: the case of Surgutneftegaz and Mol, as well as Malev Airlines. Orban's second visit to Russia in the middle of the current term of government outwardly took place on a calm, friendly and businesslike wave.
Hungary is an important, but not a priority, partner of Russia, as evidenced by the speech at the beginning of the meeting of President Putin. It is quite characteristic that the Russian president called in his speech the old statistics: the level of mutual trade between Russia and Hungary is $ 11 billion for 2011 a year. Vladimir Putin, in particular, said estimating mutual investments: "The level of investment is approximately equal: three billion accumulated Russian investments in the economy of your country and about two billion Hungarian investments in Russia." In fact, the Russian president was wrong. The indicated numbers were valid for June 2011, when both parties credited Surgutneftegaz’s package to Mol against Russian investments. As of October 2012, in fact, the volume of accumulated Hungarian investments in the Russian economy amounts to about $ 1 billion, and Russian investments in Hungary - about $ 1,5 billion. The South Stream gas pipeline will soon increase the volume of Russian investments in Hungary by about € 610 million. At the same time, the total amount of accumulated foreign direct investment in Hungary by the middle of the 2012 year amounted to over € 70 billion. For comparison, the volume of only German investments in the economy of Hungary over the last three years of the reign of Viktor Orban 2010-2012 amounted to almost € 5 billion, thanks to which 18 new enterprises were built in Hungary. Against this background, a half billion Russian look quite modest. However, given the existing volumes of Russian investments in Hungary, they are of strategic importance for this country, because in the most important part they serve energy, which provides enhanced opportunities for industrial activity, in other words, Russian investments create a field for attracting new foreign investments in other sectors of the Hungarian economy. above all in the manufacturing industry.
The focus of Orban’s visit to Moscow was the problem of economic cooperation between the two countries, as evidenced by the very composition of government delegations. The delegation at the negotiations from the Hungarian side - Minister of Economy György Matolci, Minister of National Development Zhuzhanna Nemeth Lasonl, Minister without portfolio for negotiations with the IMF Mihai Varga, General Director of the Hungarian Electrotechnical Company (MVM) holding Chaba Bayi; from the Russian side, Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fedorov, Director General of Rosatom State Corporation Sergey Kiriyenko, Chairman of Vnesheconombank State Corporation Vladimir Dmitriev, Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Alexey Miller. More specifically, the composition of the delegations shows that the center of the talks were two large investment projects - the Russian gas pipeline South Stream and the Hungarian nuclear power plant in Paks. At the same time, as we see, both the Russian and the Hungarian parties are interested not only in the practical implementation of these expensive projects, but also in their financial solution. To this end, the director of Vnesheconombank was invited to negotiate. The risks of long-term financing of such an expensive facility as a nuclear power plant in the context of the global economic crisis are too great. Certain difficulties, but of a different kind, are also seen in the South Stream project, the construction of which was begun under Anapa on December 7 2012.
The South Stream gas pipeline project with a capacity of about 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, as well as the construction of an underground gas storage facility in Hungary with a capacity of more than 1 billion cubic meters, has already been launched in this country. The length of the Hungarian section of the South Stream will be 229 km. 1 August 2012 of the year the Government of the Russian Federation issued a decree “On the conclusion of an agreement to amend the agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Hungary on the creation of a gas pipeline for the transit of natural gas through the territory of the Republic of Hungary from February 28 of the year.” In August and November 2008 from the Hungarian side, participation in the South Stream gas pipeline project was entirely concentrated in the competence of the Hungarian state energy holding MVM. In Budapest 2012 in October 10, a meeting was held between Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, at which energy supplies to Europe were discussed, including topical issues of South Stream construction. In November, 2012, Gazprom made the final investment decision on the Hungarian section of the gas pipeline, which removed all doubts of the Hungarian side. Back in March, 2012, Russia warned the Hungarian government of Orban that, in the event of an unfriendly policy of Hungary, the South Stream gas pipeline could bypass Hungary through Serbia and Croatia. The main problem of the "South Stream" remains the so-called. the third energy package of the European Union, which prohibits electricity and natural gas suppliers to act simultaneously as owners of these energy carriers and their main transportation lines, as well as requiring free access to the highways of all market participants. Because of this, Gazprom has decided not to pull a branch of its gas pipeline through Hungary to Austria. The "South Stream" in the current project will go through Hungary to Italy. Enhancing energy security and reducing dependence on Russia by diversifying supplies remains the strategic goal of Hungary’s energy policy under Orban. Despite the fact that the project Nabucco in scale and capacity has decreased, Hungary continues to participate in it. Now the Hungarian energy company Mol has focused on European Nabucco, while MVM is on the Russian South Stream.
But the most important issue in the talks held in Moscow was the participation of Rosatom in a tender for the construction of new power units of the Hungarian nuclear power plant in Paks. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in addition to conversations with Putin on this issue, also had a separate meeting with the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko.
The decision of the Hungarian government on the development of national atomic energy is based on rational considerations on maintaining the country's long-term energy independence, providing the national economy with the most affordable electricity possible, and improving the environmental parameters of the entire energy system in accordance with the requirements set by the European Union. Currently, in the energy balance of Hungary, the Hungarian Paks nuclear power plant gives 43% of electricity production. It is planned that in the event of the introduction of two additional power units, the nuclear power industry will occupy 2030% in the balance of power generation in Hungary by 60. Despite the mood in Europe after Fukushima, the Hungarian government, following the Czech example, made an unequivocal choice in favor of a further increase in the structure of energy consumption and production of the share of nuclear energy. It is planned that the expansion of the Paks NPP will be carried out by installing two new power units with a capacity of 1200 MW each. These blocks must be built and put into operation before the 2030 year. It is expected that the construction of the first unit will begin in 2014-2015, commissioning - 2023 year, the second power unit is planned to be put into operation by 2030 year. The launch of the project, therefore, is planned for the construction of the first power unit. In an unfavorable situation, the Hungarians may abandon the construction of the second. The price of the tender announced now is $ 10 billion. As for the current power units of the Paks NPP built for 1983-1987, after the 2030 of the year, according to the plan, they should be decommissioned. In February, 2012 of the year in the framework of the long-term program to extend the life of the NPP at Paks for the new twenty-year period, the Russian concern Rosatom, together with MVM, signed a protocol extending the cooperation contract on upgrading the already existing four power units (VVER-440 / 213 reactors - two 500 MW and two in 470 MW) for a new three-year period. For the modernization of the existing Paks NPP, the Hungarian government allocated around € 2012 billion in 1,1.
As for the concrete decision on the construction of new power units of the Hungarian Paks nuclear power plant, it is now clearly lagging. The Hungarian government is delaying the decision, including due to considerations of its allied relations with the US and the EU. In 2011, it was expected that the tender would be announced in the first half of 2012. But only 18 June 2012, the Hungarian government adopted a program of measures to implement the decisions on the construction of power units at the Paks NPP. On the basis of the state-owned energy concern MVM, a closed joint stock company MVM Paks II Zrt was created for the project. Hungarians once again then confirmed the list of units that will participate in the competition. In total it is supposed to involve five projects in Paksha: these are: American Westinghouse AP 1000; Areva's French EPR (one block is being built in Finland and France now); Atmea, developed jointly by French Areva with Japanese Mitsubishi; VVER-1000 of Russian Rosatom; South Korean Korea Electric Power Corporation. According to official information, the tender announcement period is scheduled for the first half of 2013 of the year.
In addition, another fundamental direction of the Hungarian energy strategy will be the construction of new power generation facilities using natural gas. Now 17,99% of the generated electricity falls at the station Matra and Dunamenti, the share of the station Chepel is 5,16%. The Hungarian network of power stations is outdated: the average duration of the power plant operation exceeds 23 of the year. The next day after Orban’s visit to Moscow, it was announced that the Hungarian state acquired gas storage facilities and the Hungarian gas and electricity wholesale division from the German energy company E.ON. In the Hungarian media, the price of this transaction is called - the amount of € 875 million. Purchased from E.ON is recorded on the balance sheet of the Hungarian state energy company MVM. On the one hand, this acquisition of the Hungarian government is associated with the South Stream project, and, on the other, with plans to reconstruct the non-nuclear Hungarian electric power industry. The agreements with E.ON, the most important partner of Gazprom in Europe, were signed just when Orban and the director of MVM were in Moscow. Hungary’s acquisition of Hungarian E.ON means that the Hungarian government will now have direct relations with Gazprom, which is especially important when preparing a new long-term contract for the supply of natural gas to Hungary from Russia. The term of the previous contract ends in 2015. Now the Hungarians are only observing the state and trends of the gas market and are not in a hurry with the signing of a new long-term contract with Gazprom.
Returning to the tender for the nuclear power plant in Paks, we note that the main problem of the Hungarian government in the implementation of an expensive project in Paks is the search for funds for its implementation. There is an intense search and a specific financial scheme of the project, profitable for Hungary. Today Hungary is considered the third country in the world in terms of the relative size of its external debt. The Paks tender means a further increase in Hungary’s government debt, which already fluctuates at the level of 78-82% of this country's GDP. Now Rosatom in the Hungarian case is trying to repeat the Czech scheme, when 30% promises the participation of Hungarian companies in the construction of new power units in Paks. But for the implementation of the Paks NPP expansion project, the Hungarian side is also waiting for preferential loans from Russia. Russia, in turn, needs guarantees that could be provided by some influential transnational bank. Otherwise, Russia could arrange any collateral from Hungary. The Hungarian media have suggested that Rosatom will be offered a share in the ownership of NPP Paks, that is, a stake in MVM. That is, MVM can be partially privatized. Possession of Rosatom by MVM shares may be temporary until the Hungarian party redeems the cost of all the construction of new power units. Another solution could be, following the example of the construction of nuclear power plants in Turkey, the signing of a long-term contract with the Russian side on purchases by the Hungarians of the electricity generated at the nuclear power plants. This means that a product produced by new NPP units could be transferred to Russian ownership.
In Moscow last Friday, Orban said: "We would like to support Russia's investment activity in Hungary. We especially would like to keep our energy dialogue high. We expect Russia to provide tangible support in expanding our energy system, including including world-class technology. In addition, we hope that Hungary will be ready to export goods to Russia in accordance with its growing needs. And we are happy to note that Russia also encourages Hungarian exports ditch on the growth of activity. We will try to increase the corresponding volumes. " Such a declaration means that Hungary will support Russian energy projects in exchange for the admission of products of the Hungarian industry and agriculture to the Russian market. So, the victory in the upcoming tender for Paksu “Rosatom” is guaranteed only in the case of an interesting solution for the Hungarians of the financing of the project and the opening of its market by Russia to expand the export of Hungarian technologies, as well as industrial and agricultural products.
In the current conditions of severe stagnation of the Hungarian economy, export growth remains the only possibility of development on the demand side and increasing the country's GDP. Here Hungary, in the first place, stares at Russia's supposedly "unlimited" demand for agricultural products. In 2011, Hungarian food exports to Russia reached $ 265 million, an increase of 16% from the previous year. The first seven months of 2012 also showed a further increase in exports of Hungarian food to Russia by 6%. At the same time, one cannot but agree that the Hungarians in this sector of their exports supply Russia in the overwhelming majority of cases with inexpensive but high-quality products. Meanwhile, the Russian side is interested in Hungarian investments in Russia in the event that Hungarian companies (Putin, as an example, called the Hungarian pharmaceutical company) are building their manufacturing enterprises in Russia.
The negotiators in Moscow noted cultural and humanitarian cooperation as the basis for mutually beneficial cooperation in general. Hungarian Prime Minister Orban said: "The respect and recognition we feel for Russia is, first of all, respect for culture. And this high appreciation of the Russian cultural heritage provides an excellent basis for the development of our economic relations." In turn, Vladimir Putin said the following: “We have very good relations in the humanitarian sphere. We see that Hungary’s interest in the Russian language is being maintained, student exchange continues. Last year, one of the avenues in Budapest in central park was named after Leo Tolstoy. We, of course, noticed this, it is very nice. We want to thank you and the authorities of Budapest for this. " In this connection, the whole rhetoric of Orban in Moscow, to which the Hungarian media paid close attention, was indicative. In particular, Orban, in his opening speech to the talks, declared to Putin: "We believe that Russia is a great power. We proceed from the fact that it has not only a great past, but also a great future ... Now I have come to you to to discuss how we will live in the post-crisis period. Obviously, after the financial and economic crisis is over, Russia will have a special role in this regard. " "We, the Hungarians, have no doubts about how important such a partner as Russia is for us. We perfectly understand what the weight of Russia is and its significance. However, the respect and recognition we feel for Russia is not, first of all, "due to the size of Russia, but above all out of respect for its culture. And it is this high appreciation of the Russian cultural heritage that provides an excellent basis for the development of our economic relations."
But the Hungarians would not be Hungarians, and Orban - Orban, if they did not remind the Russian authorities on the day of the visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister to Moscow their habit of keeping a fig in his pocket when talking with the Russians. Hungarian State Information Policy news On January 31, 2013, MTI placed three photos of Sell Kalman Square in Budapest on its news feed, reminding us of the scandalous episode renamed in spring 2011 by decision of the Budapest authorities, which had previously been called Moscow Square. During the recent negotiations with Orban, the Kremlin pretended to forget symbolic hostile actions against Russia during his reign.