Budapest, April 13 (MTI) – A Hungarian government programme aimed at boosting the economy of Vojvodina province, in northern Serbia, marks the start of a new era, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Subotica (Szabadka) on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference after meeting leaders of the local ethnic Hungarian VMSZ party, Orbán said the 50 billion forint (EUR 160.7m) scheme would equally benefit Serbia, its Hungarian community, Hungary and the European Union.
Commenting on Serbia’s upcoming elections, Orbán encouraged ethnic Hungarians to support VMSZ, which he referred to as a “predictable force and the guarantee of a safe future” for Vojvodina Hungarians.
Before the press conference, Orbán signed the first contract of the scheme with local entrepreneur Gyöngyi Rekettye, who had won funding for farming development.
Launching of the economic programme has been a “milestone in building a nation”, VMSZ leader István Pásztor told the press conference.
Pásztor said that the two-year plan consisted of a loan programme worth 30 billion forints, while the remaining 20 billion would be distributed as grants. A total 2,413 entrepreneurs have submitted bids in the first phase of the programme, but added that tenders for the second phase were already under way, he added.
Later in the day, Orbán attended the inauguration of a glass fibre plant built at Subotica by Hungary’s Masterplast, in company with Aleksandar Vucic, the Serbian prime minister.
In his address, Orbán said that Hungary and Serbia were mutually interested in each other’s success.
Hungary wants to see Serbia’s early European Union integration, which he said was “in the interest of all Hungarian nationals”, and which would also benefit Serbia’s ethnic Hungarian community and the EU. Serbia could become a respected member of the EU, a process in which Vojvodina could be key, Orbán said, arguing that the province was a bridge linking Serbia to Hungary and the whole of Europe.
Vucic thanked Orbán for Hungary’s assistance in boosting investments in his country. He noted that Serbia’s economy was on the upswing, with economic growth mostly supported by increased exports. He also said that the new plant could be among Europe’s three largest glass fibre suppliers by 2017, when the thrid phase of the development is completed.