Contracts were signed with over 3250 applicants of the Vojvodina Economic Development Programme in Senta (Zenta) on Friday, where Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared: Everyone wins with the Programme, since the investment projects are realised in Serbia, while Hungary is stronger, the stronger the parts of the nation.

The total value of the tender applications signed on Friday is 10.9 billion forints (EUR 33.5 million), of which 17 billion forints (EUR 52 million) in new development projects will be realised, the Minister added.

DownloadPhoto: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mr. Szijjártó said that the number of successful applicants will be increasing to over ten thousand by the end of the year, and that over a period of three years a total of 74.5 billion forints (EUR 229 million) in investments will be realised in Vojvodina.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister highlighted the fact that the Programme has reached all Hungarian-populated areas in Vojvodina, which he said was realised thanks to the fact that Hungary has once again become a strong and successful country. “Hungary and Serbia are both found in regions whose rate of economic growth exceeds the European average”, he added.

He drew attention to the fact that the programme will be continuing, and that in next year’s Hungarian budget 50 billion forints (EUR 154 million) are earmarked for cross-border economic development programmes.

The Minister stressed that the Hungarians were always strong when they were able to show unity both at home and in cross-border territories, pointing out that the Hungarian nation is strong and successful, and an unprecedented level of solidarity came about at the April elections. “This solidarity makes it possible for the Hungarians to successfully face major challenges and the obstacles set by the new world order”, he underlined, adding that Vojvodina Hungarians are also playing a major role in this.

When the Hungarian Government decides on national policy, it always asks the given national community what it would like in the interests of improving its fate. This is also what happened in the case of Vojvodina, where the largest Serbian Hungarian party was asked, and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) advised Budapest to establish a better than ever cooperation with the Serbian Government and launch an economic development programme with which it can lay the foundations for the reinforcement of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina, he stated. “Hungary has successfully realised both”, Mr. Szijjártó pointed out.

In his speech, VMSZ President István Pásztor stressed that a strong community can only be built if the members of the community gain strength, and the Hungarian community in Vojvodina is gaining strength not only in spirit, but also economically thanks to the Economic Development Programme.

He said that from Friday, the number of successful applicants has increased to 9957, and that by the end of the year this number will exceed ten thousand. The total value of development projects equals the four-year budget of the city of Subotica (Szabadka) and almost half of the total annual budget of the whole Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

On the subject of Hungarian national policy, Mr. Pásztor drew attention to the fact that Serbian Hungarians had always heard that they were part of the joint Hungarian nation, but had not always experienced this approach on the part of the mother country. During the past eight years, however, it has been able to cooperate with a Hungarian Government that has a similar view of the nation as Vojvodina Hungarians, and which would like every part of the nation to gain strength, he declared.

In addition to the support of the Hungarian Government, the acceptance of the Serbian Government was also important, in view of the fact that cooperation base on mutual respect is also reassuring with relation to the future, Mr. Pásztor said.

DownloadPhoto: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

In closing, he confirmed: there is only a chance of gaining strength if the Vojvodina Hungarians move in the same direction, because “if they run around all over the place then they will become divided”.

Budapest originally planned a budget of 50 billion forints (EUR 154 million) for the joint economic development programme launched by the Hungarian Government and the VMSZ, but the budget was later increased, and today the total sum of loans and non-returnable funding exceeds 65 billion forints (EUR 200 million). The greatest emphasis in the programme, which runs from 2016-2018, was placed on agriculture, tourism and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the goal was to stop young people from having to look for work abroad, and the reversal of this process.