“The Hungarian government’s Vojvodina Economic Development Program is continuing with five new tenders, and the program will also continue in future”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced on Wednesday in Bácsfeketehegy (Feketić), where he attended a contract-signing event for successful applicants to the economic development program.

Mr. Szijjártó drew attention to the fact that tenders for house purchasing, beekeeping activities, purchasing farmland, start-up enterprises and the launching of small businesses by the unemployed will be launched on Wednesday. “Over the past four years, 55 thousand applicants have received funding within the framework of the Hungarian government’s cross-border economic development programs, during the course of which 129 billion forints (EUR 371.5 million) in Hungarian budgetary funding has been distributed, and thanks to which 236 billion forints (EUR 679.5 million) in investment and development projects have been realised in territories inhabited by cross-border Hungarians”, he reminded those present.

The Vojvodina Economic Development Program was the first program of its kind. 13,026 applicants have received a total of 47.5 billion forint (EUR 136.8 million) from the Hungarian budget to date, thanks to which 91 billion forints (EUR 262 million) in investment has been realised. “Our goal continues to be to reach as many Vojvodinan Hungarian entrepreneurs and farmers as possible, in view of the fact that the effect of this funding system must be felt by all Hungarian families living across the border”, the Minister underlined.

Contracts were concluded with 435 applicants on Wednesday in Feketić. “We are providing a total of 1.98 billion forints (EUR 5.7 million) in funding within the funding land purchasing and start-up tourism enterprises category to enable these entrepreneurs to realise their plans”, Mr. Szijjártó noted.

“The Hungarian nation and the country’s borders do not correspond, which places a major responsibility on the shoulder of all Hungarian governments”, he emphasised. “The responsibility for taking care of Hungarian national communities living beyond our borders, and for this precise reason national policy will always be an integral part of Hungarian government policy”, he added.

In his speech at the event, President of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians István Pásztor spoke about the fact that economic development programs have become a new instrument of national policy in recent years. “An instrument that is not only important to us here, in Vojvodina, but throughout the Carpathian Basin, because Hungarian communities everywhere are driven by a dual goal: firstly, to maintain and reinforce their national identity, and secondly to be able to take root while gaining strength existentially, and to become stronger and be able to continue to prosper on the land of their birth”, he stated.

Budapest initially earmarked a budget of 50 billion forints (EUR 144 million) for the 2016-2018 phase of the Vojvodina Economic Development Program, but later increased that budget. The greatest emphasis within the program was placed on agriculture, tourism, and the development of small and medium-sized businesses, the goal being to curb the emigration of young people and possibly reverse the process. The second phase of the economic development program, in which tourism was given an even greater role, was launched last year.

With relation to the Serbian elections to be held over the weekend, Mr. Szijjártó repeated his previous statement according to which the Hungarian government is rooting for the current Serbian government coalition, which also includes the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians. István Pásztor asked those present to support the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians “so that we can jointly create the opportunity to continue what we began four and a half years ago”.

(MTI/Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)