The Hungarian news service (MTI) announced today that Hungary is to launch a HUF 50 (USD 173 million) regional economic development program in neighboring Vojvodina, Serbia. Levente Magyar, undersecretary for economic deiplomacy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, announced that the aid would take the form of HUF 30 billion (USD 105 million) worth of loans and HUF 20 billion (USD 68 million) in state grants.
“The primary goal of the program is to help Vojvodina farmers owning the best agricultural land in the world find foreign markets for their products,” said Magyar.
Another goal of the program is the creation of an integrated agricultural and sales institutional system. The program would also like to support tourism, as Vojvodina possesses unused touristic potential.
“We like to show this to the Hungarian community in Hungary at first and then around the world” stated the undersecretary, adding that among the mentioned goals is the development of small and medium sized companies which are to be supported with advantageous loan constructions.
The program is to be executed together with the Vojvodina Hungarian Alliance (Vajdasági Magyar Szövetség or VMSZ).
According to Magyar, there is no previous precedent for such a program. “The government is committed to Hungarian communities living abroad far more than ever before” said the undersecretary.
István Pásztor, the president of the Vojvodina Hungarian Alliance, said “this is an economic development program covering a five year period that is compatible with Serbian, Vojvodina and Hungarian development expectations”.
In response to questions, the Hungarian leader said that the Serbian government knows that the VMSZ is working on a development program of this kind and that it had not raised any kind of objection to it so far. He is convinced that there will not be any.
“It is also in Serbia’s interest that the citizens can be happy. These investments will take place in Serbia and will contribute to the increase in GDP. The taxpayers will be there,” he said.
He expressed hope that those who are thinking about leaving the land of their birth will reconsider, and that those who have already left will consider returning.
He explained that this is a great day and that the regional and economic development program is the fruit of three years efforts.