István Pásztor, head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ), has passed away, his son, Bálint Pásztor, the leader of the VMSZ parliamentary faction, announced on social media on Monday.
The 67-year-old politician passed away after a brief, severe illness. István Pásztor had led the largest Hungarian party in Serbia for over 16 years, from 2007 until the present day. He was re-elected as the party’s president in May of this year. He also served as a city council member in Szabadka (Subotica), a parliamentary representative in Belgrade, and the president of the provincial assembly of Vojvodina.
Two years ago, he was awarded the Hungarian Order of Merit, Middle Cross with a Star, and a year later, the President of the Republic of Serbia conferred the first degree of the Candlemas Order of Merit upon the President of the VMSZ.
István Pásztor was born in 1956 in Szabadka. He completed his primary and secondary education there, and earned his university degree in law from the University of Újvidék (Novi Sad) in 1980. He had been a member of the VMSZ since 1994.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán bid farewell to István Pásztor on his Facebook page, saying: ‘He went the way of the warriors. May God rest István Pásztor.’
In a joint statement sent to MTI on Monday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and Árpád János Potápi, State Secretary for National Policy at the Prime Minister’s Office, wrote:
‘In the person of István Pásztor, the President of the VMSZ, and the President of the Provincial Assembly of Vojvodina, the leader of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina, the leading strategic partner and friend of the Hungarian government, we have lost the greatest figure of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina.’ He dedicated his entire life to serving his homeland and community. Throughout his life and political career, Pásztor worked tirelessly for the preservation and strengthening of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina. Thanks to his activities as President of the VMSZ, the Hungarian community in Serbia has become the most organized national minority in the Carpathian Basin, the statement added.
With his persistent and steadfast work, he achieved not only invaluable merits in Hungarian affairs but also in strengthening Serbian–Hungarian relations, building bridges between the two governments, two nations, and two countries. ‘The series of steps toward mutual reconciliation between Serbia and Hungary could not have been taken and raised to an exemplary level in the region without István Pásztor’s personal involvement,’ the statement reads.