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Being Good Neighbors Is a Policy Shared by Budapest and Sarajevo

MTI-Hungary Today 2023.06.23.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Bosnian counterpart Borjana Kristo

On Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he first held talks with Prime Minister Borjana Kristo in Sarajevo, before travelling to Banja Luka, where he met Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska.

Hungary supports the rapid EU membership of the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the European Union needs the Balkans now more than vice versa, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Sarajevo on Thursday after talks with Borjana Kristo. He stressed that the two countries are neighbors in political and economic terms, that this is how Hungary sees Sarajevo, and that Hungary can always expect a responsible neighborhood policy there.

As part of Hungary’s Balkan policy, the Prime Minister said that EU funds for catching up should be given to the countries of the region now, without waiting for their formal accession, and that the availability of development funds should be brought forward.

Orbán also said that Hungary would be happy to continue to play its part in guaranteeing security in the Balkans and was ready to increase its current contribution to the EUFOR mission if necessary.

The Hungarian Prime Minister and his host described bilateral cooperation as “good,” and Orbán confirmed that the government was waiting for signals from Sarajevo on which economic sectors would need Hungarian presence, in addition to the existing ones, such as aviation, the financial sector, and the renewable energy sector.

Orbán also met three members of the State Presidency in Sarajevo and visited Parliament. In the afternoon, he traveled on to Banja Luka for talks with Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the meeting with Dodik, Prime Minister Orbán said that he regretted the slow progress of the European Union in the accession process of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Prime Minister recalled that Hungary and Republika Srpska see great prospects for cooperation in the fields of energy, infrastructure, and agriculture.

The parties have therefore decided to set up a special committee to report every three months on the state of economic cooperation, providing an opportunity for rapid decisions and dynamic progress.

L-R: Zeljka Cvijanovic, Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik and Viktor Orbán. Photo: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher

A joint declaration has been signed, which will serve as a basis for cooperation in various fields, from health to economy, education, and transport, and will contribute to further strengthening of relations, stressed the President of the Republika Srpska. Dodik added that Republika Srpska has received 100 million euros of support from Hungary for the development of agriculture, for which Banja Luka is very grateful.

Dodik also thanked the Hungarian government for the budget support given to the Bosnian Serbs at the beginning of the year, which allowed the institutions to function without problems.

They plan to work on developing the electricity grid, solar energy, and hydro-power in the Serb-majority region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as building a pharmaceutical factory and improving infrastructure. They will also be able to use the support they receive from Hungary for this, Dodik pointed out. The Bosnian Serb leader also thanked Orbán for Hungary’s support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European integration.

Trade Is an Instrument of Peace in the Western Balkans
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Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó talked about cooperation with the Western Balkans and energy security at a forum in Bosnia and Herzegovina.Continue reading

Featured photo via MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher

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