It is “clearly in Hungary’s interest” that Serbia is developing into a strong country, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on the sidelines of talks with Serbian government members in Subotica (Szabadka), in northern Serbia. Szijjártó held talks with Ivica Dačić, his Serbian counterpart, and Jadranka Joksimović, Serbia’s European integration minister ahead of a joint Hungary-Serbia government session. He said Hungary would make every effort to contribute to Serbia’s economic development and to accelerate Serbia’s European integration. “We cannot accept zero progress in European Union enlargement before 2025, and cannot accept that the European Commission is slowing down Serbia’s integration artificially,” he said. “Among the true supporters of Serbia’s integration, Hungary is the only country that dares espouse such a position.” “Europe’s mainstream politics is against enlargement, and we must fight in Brussels to give momentum to the enlargement process and to remove the European Commission’s artificial barriers,” Szijjártó said.
Concerning the Hungarian economy, Szijjártó said Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are prime destinations for Hungarian investments, adding that the government has earmarked 10 billion forints (EUR 31.1m) to support that trend. Hungary’s Eximbank has set up a credit line of 110 million euros to support bilateral trade with Serbia, while the Hungarian foreign ministry has set aside 1.6 billion forints to support Hungarian participation in infrastructure projects in Serbia, Szijjártó said.
Referring to the Hungarian government’s programme aimed at promoting Hungarian businesses in Serbia’s northern Vojvodina province, he said that the scheme was “a huge and unquestioned success”. So far, 10,000 bids have been awarded and the resulting investment has totalled 65 billion forints, he said, adding that the scheme will make use of another 7.5 billion forints this year. Szijjártó also announced that the two governments are scheduled to sign an agreement under which Hungary and Serbia mutually deploy diplomats at the other country’s embassies. “This means we’ll be able to ensure our presence efficiently and at a lower cost” in places where Hungary does not have diplomatic mission, he said.