Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called for economic ties between Hungary and Serbia to be strengthened at a joint cabinet meeting followed by a business forum in the city of Nis on Monday. “Over the past few years, the two countries laid down the political foundations of bilateral economic cooperation and now the time has come to carry out investments that benefit both countries”, Orbán said after a Hungary-Serbia joint cabinet meeting. Hungary-Serbia political relations have never been as good as they are now, he declared.
The future and business opportunities belong to Central Europe, Orbán said. Central Europe and the Visegrad Group will be “great success stories in the years ahead because there are great economic opportunities here”, he said, adding that Serbia can partake in their economic successes. Viktor Orbán said Hungary was facilitating cooperation via economic development measures, and is providing a credit line of 61 million euros to finance cooperation between Hungarian and Serbian enterprises; once this amount is spent, Hungary is capable of greatly increasing the level of funding.
Orbán urged Hungarian business leaders to “put Serbia back on the map” – not just Vojvodina (Vajdaság) or Belgrade, but the whole country. “Serbia’s economy is on a growth trajectory, despite the fact that it isn’t a member of the EU”, he pointed out. “The country’s growth is still considerable and Hungary supports Serbia’s accession to the European Union, which will open up further opportunities”, Orbán said, adding that whoever establishes a presence on the Serbian market now will acquire a long-term, dependable business opportunity. Orbán told the Serbian business partners present that the Hungarian government would also like to see the appearance of Serbian capital in Hungary, because in the long term this will facilitate peaceful and balanced bilateral relations. He said he feels that a major, priority flagship project is still needed, but that when the Budapest-Belgrade railway line project finally reaches the construction phase it could fill this role and provide encouragement for further investment projects.
For his part, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said the following: “Over the past two years Serbia has made huge progress, which has also been recognised internationally; we have succeeded in reducing bureaucracy, accelerated the issue of licences and enabled more rapid trading. The Serbian economy is expanding significantly, with 3.5 percent growth planned for next year”.“The current goals are diversification of development, and increases in consumption and retail turnover”, he said. “In the years ahead we would like to catch up with Hungary and other similar countries”, he explained. The Serbian prime minister said that an important goal is to attract investment. He said that his country’s primary advantage is its affordable and highly-trained workforce, and he declared that Serbia provides the best conditions for investment. Mr. Vučić also encouraged Serbian business people to invest in Hungary, because, he explained, by doing so they will reinforce bilateral relations and trust between the two countries.
Concerning political issues, PM Viktor Orbán said Hungary supports every measure by Serbia that is aimed at stopping illegal migration. This includes aiding the country with manpower, experts or financial resources, he said. Orbán praised Serbia’s treatment of Hungarian communities living there, saying that the country’s minority policy was among the fairest in Europe. Orbán said Serbs living in Hungary could also count on the Hungarian government. After his visit to Serbia, the Hungarian Prime Minister has shared the following video on his official Facebook page:
via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu; photos: Balázs Szecsődi kormany.hu