The Kolo Serbian Cultural Centre, which was constructed with the help of EU funding, was officially inaugurated on Monday in Mórahalom.

In his speech, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó emphasised that Hungary and Serbia are linked by their minorities, which the two countries view as a resource, and not as a source of tension. “This approach is particularly important at a time when the acquired rights of minorities are being taken away and violated in certain countries within the Carpathian Basin. Serbia has constructed a minority protection model that could serve as an example for all of Europe”, the politician said.

“There are few countries that are capable of harmonising their own national pride and their commitment to territorial integrity, while also providing autonomy to the national minorities living on their territory”, he added. “The stronger the national minorities living on our territory, the more they are able to contribute to also making Hungary stronger”, he stated. “The Hungarian Government is supporting national minorities so they can use their native language, nurture their culture, operate their institutions, and maintain close relations with their mother country, because this also helps reinforce bilateral relations”, the Minister explained.

Mr. Szijjártó said that in his opinion the goal of policies relating to national minorities can be nothing other than to provide the economic and cultural conditions required for the given community to remain in place. “The Hungarian Government is continuously increasing the funding provided to the Serbian minority, which reached 2.5 billion forints (EUR 7.7 million) this year. In addition, within the framework of the Vojvodina Economic Development Programme, over 10 thousand applicants have received 38 billion forints (EUR 117 million) towards the realisation of 75 billion forints (EUR 231 million) in investment projects”, he stated.

The Minister said that there are tangible advantages to the improvement of Hungarian-Serbian cultural and human relations: trade flow between the two countries increased to 2.5 billion euros last year. “Serbia is Hungary’s number one partner in the Western Balkan region, a region whose rapid European integration is also in our national economic, national security and national strategic interests”, the politician said.

Mr. Szijjártó stressed that in the upcoming years Hungary will be doing everything possible in the interest of Serbia’s accession to the European Union. “We must protect European Christian civilisation, and the Serbians have proven that we can count on them”, the Minister said. In his speech, Serbian Minister of Culture and Information Vladan Vukosavljevi said the opening of the Cultural Centre is proof of the fact that Hungarian-Serbian cultural relations are getting stronger day-by-day. “In addition to the economy, culture is also an important area of cross-border projects”, said the Minister, adding that he trusts that the twin institute of the Kolo Centre will be opening its doors in Palić (Palics) before the end of this year. The Kolo Serbian Cultural Centre was built within the framework of the Hungarian-Siberian Diverse Cooperation cross-border project.

The Centre has a floor area of two thousand square metres, with a lecture hall with room for 400 people on the first floor and an exhibition and social space on the second floor for holding separate events, small presentations and art exhibitions. At the event, Mayor Zoltán Nógrádi (Fidesz-KDNP) ceremoniously presented the Key to the Balkans to Mayor of Zrenjanin (Nagybecskerek) Chedomir Janjić, representing the fact that the Vojvodinan town will be the guest of the institution new year.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)