Hungary is launching a business development programme in Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Banja Luka on Friday.
In the first phase of the scheme, the government will invite bids to disburse 35 million euros in development funding among local small and medium-sized companies, Szijjártó told a joint press conference with Bosnia’s Serb leader Milorad Dodik. Under the scheme, more than 1,000 companies will be able to apply for a maximum of 25,000 euros to procure Hungarian-made assets, he said.
The window for applications will be open from Sept 1 until Oct 15, and the grant agreements are planned to be signed before the end of the year,
Szijjártó said. Economic growth boosts stability and contributes to strengthening peace, the minister said. The business development programme will benefit both the Hungarian and Bosnian economies, he said.
The Hungarian government supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability and aspirations for European integration, “not just in words, but through its actions as well”, Szijjártó said. Meanwhile, the minister said there are 134 Hungarian soldiers serving in the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We believe the right thing to do is to provide constant assistance and support to the Western Balkan countries, and we aim to engage in dialogue in line with a responsible neighbourhood policy,”
Szijjártó said. Civilised dialogue is needed instead of sanctions and threats, he said, adding that “it is only natural to us that we don’t support any EU sanctions against the legitimate and elected leader of any Western Balkan country.”
Szijjártó said that “during these seriously challenging times” all European politicians had a duty to do everything they could to improve the continent’s stability and security.
“Speeding up the integration of the Western Balkans region would be one of these things,”
the minister said. He blamed Brussels for “the integration process being this slow”, saying Hungary disagreed with the European Council’s decision not to grant EU candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.