The Vojvodina region of northern Serbia is a “shared success story” for Serbia and Hungary, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Feketić (Bácsfeketehegy), northern Serbia, adding that the more Vojvodina prospered, the better it would be for Serbs and Hungarians, too. The annual trade turnover between the two countries has reached record highs each year since 2010, exceeding 2.5 billion euros in 2019, Szijjártó said at the inauguration of a frozen vegetable processing plant set up as part of the Hungarian government’s economic development scheme geared towards Vojvodina.
The scheme launched in 2016 has so far supported 13,000 entrepreneurs, businesses, farmers and producers in Vojvodina with a total of 47.5 billion forints (EUR 137.9m), which has generated 93 billion forints’ worth of investments, Szijjártó said. He said it was Hungary’s goal to make sure that most Vojvodina-based entrepreneurs and farmers were able to take advantage of the development scheme in the future, too. “We started small with small beneficiaries,” the minister said. But the scheme can only be effective in the long run if there is a guarantee that there will be consistent demand for the goods produced by the small businesses and entrepreneurs involved, he said, adding that this was why the government had also started supporting medium-sized and large companies. The government has supported more than a hundred large companies through its economic development scheme, creating 700 jobs in the process, Szijjártó said. The 2.7 billion forint investment made by Aretol, Serbia’s top producer of frozen vegetables and fruits will create 80 new jobs, the minister said. The investment was supported by a 1.5 billion forint grant from the Hungarian government, he said.
István Pásztor, head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) party, said Aretol was the last large company to participate in the Hungarian government’s economic development scheme. He thanked the Hungarian government for the moral and financial support it had provided for Vojvodina Hungarians in recent years.
Meanwhile, at a separate event in Palić (Palics), near the Serbian-Hungarian border, Szijjártó said the upgrade of the railway line linking Szeged and Serbia’s Subotica (Szabadka) would be completed by 2022. Defeating the novel coronavirus pandemic will be followed by a phase of economy protection that will be considered a “success story”, Szijjártó said, adding that this would also apply to infrastructure developments and investments. The upgrade of the rail line will bring the two cities and regions closer together, intensifying cooperation between them, the minister said, adding that it would also reduce travel time between Szeged and Subotica to 40 minutes.
Rail traffic between Szeged and Subotica stopped completely in November 2015 after traffic across the Hungarian border had already been suspended for two months due to the construction of the fence on the Hungary-Serbia border aimed at stemming the flow of illegal migrants.