BUDAPEST, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban confirmed here on Monday that the construction of a new Hungarian power plant "Paks 2" would start next January.
"The construction of the new nuclear power plant Paks 2 can begin in January," said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto following the Putin-Orban meeting. "Nothing can stop it now," he added
Putin and Orban attended the first day of the 2017 World Judo Championships, that started here Monday. The two leaders met in the venue of the competition, and discussed ongoing bilateral issues, such as the construction of the new nuclear power plant and other economic topics.
The total cost of the nuclear power plant is 12 billion U.S. dollars, of which Hungarian entrepreneurs will contract 5 billion U.S. dollars, Szijjarto also noted.
The Hungarian opposition criticized the project due to the lack of its transparency, but the new power plant has been evaluated by the European Commission and received all of the permissions earlier this year. It should be completed in 2023.
Szijjarto emphasized that following a setback of many years -- resulting from EU sanctions and other global economic impacts -- trade between the two countries started to increase significantly this year by 34 percent by the end of May.
Hungary's exports rose by 30 percent, due to two factors: a 44 percent growth in the pharmaceutical industry on one hand,and the fact that Russians support the Hungarian food companies' investments on the other.
"Hungarian cereal exports increased by 89 percent in the first five months only," Szijjarto said, stressing that the next step for Hungary would be the investment in water industry projects.
Szijjarto also pointed out that direct flights now connected Saint Petersburg and Budapest.
About gas transportation, the Russian president confirmed that Russia was working with Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia together with Hungary to get Russian gas from Turkey to Western Europe.
This is not a new route, as "Southstream" would have been, but rather the use and modernization of existing Bulgarian, Serbian and Hungarian pipelines and the construction of certain new sections, Szijjarto explained.
The project would be completed by the construction of an infrastructure in the south of Hungary able to contain 10 billion cubic meters of gas, that would insure the Hungarian consumption, and feed the Western European needs with the inclusion of Austria.
The Russian president came for the second time to Hungary this year, after having paid a visit in early February. A judoka himself since his early childhood, Putin is Honorary President of the International Judo Federation.
He missed the opening ceremony by little, which was a colorful event, featuring the famous Italian singer Al Bano, and a series of Hungarian folk music and dance. He stayed and watched the finals in 48 kg category for women and 60 kg for men.
Putin invited Orban to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be held next year in Russia. The Hungarian Prime Minister accepted the invitation.
The two leaders did not appear at a press conference this time, given the short length of Putin's visit, who is leaving the Hungarian capital Monday.
Some were not happy with the visit of the Russian leader. Smaller opposition parties have staged a little but noisy protest at the entrance of the venue of the competition, whereas a newly formed political movement, Momentum organized a "March for Europe" on a hill of Budapest in order to remind the government that instead of Russia, the Hungarian government should focus its attention on the European Union.