Hungary has a sovereign foreign policy and supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s swift European Union accession, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated during a press conference following his meeting with the President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia Milorad Dodik on Thursday in Banja Luka.
Viktor Orbán emphasised: Hungary has its own position, which in some areas aligns with that of the European Union whereas in others it does not.
The PM criticised the slow progress of the European Union regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession process.
He stated that according to Hungarian foreign policy, the EU’s financial convergence funds should be given to the countries that it wants to see catch up with the Union before the countries achieve membership.
‘Our foreign policy rejects the sanction-based approach, we do not support any sanctions, and we will not support them,’ the prime minister also underlined. In addition, Hungary supports international actors stepping back and allowing the residents of the individual countries to decide on political matters, he added.
Viktor Orbán stated that Hungary and the Republika Srpska in Bosnia see great potential for cooperation in the fields of energy, infrastructure, and agriculture. Therefore, the parties decided to establish a special committee that will report on the state of economic cooperation every three months, providing opportunities for quick decision-making and dynamic progress. Hungary can help Republika Srpska by ensuring ‘another dimension beyond the daily battles, a dimension of development, strengthening economic cooperation, and growth,’ because ‘it is important for a person to have not only feet but also wings,’ emphasised the PM.
‘We have signed a joint statement that will serve as the basis for cooperation in various areas, ranging from healthcare to the economy, education, and transportation, contributing to the further strengthening of the relationships,’ Milorad Dodik stressed during the press conference. He said that Hungary is an economically successful country, and the Republika Srpska closely follows what Budapest does in terms of demographics, where it performs exceptionally well, and Banja Luka intends to adopt Hungarian good practices. He thanked Hungary for its support of the Serbian minority and the contribution to its development. ‘The development of Hungary and Serbia’s relationship brings us joy, and as members of the Serbian people, we would like to participate in it,’ he emphasised. He added that the Republika Srpska received a 100 million euro support from Hungary for agricultural development, for which Banja Luka is very grateful. ‘We are ready to be partners in Hungary’s new, advanced Balkan policy, which is fully based on cooperation and understanding, something we don’t see elsewhere,’ stated the Bosnian Serb leader.
Milorad Dodik expressed gratitude for the budgetary support provided by the Hungarian government earlier this year to the Bosnian Serbs, which enabled the institutions to function smoothly. According to the plans, the predominantly Serb-populated region of Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to work on the development of the electrical grid, solar energy, and hydropower, as well as construct a pharmaceutical factory and improve infrastructure. Dodik mentioned that the country will also utilise the support received from Hungary for these purposes. The Bosnian Serb leader thanked Viktor Orbán for Hungary’s support of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European integration.
In response to a question, Viktor Orbán stated that the European Union’s policy towards the Serbs is unjust,
and there are numerous signs of that. Hungary feels obliged to work for the fair treatment of Serbia even within EU institutions. The PM also noted that the progress of the European Union is stagnating according to economic indicators, and ‘there is no new dynamism or new energy in the European economy’ today. According to Viktor Orbán, Europe’s reserves are in the Balkans, where new energy, population, territory, and economic potential can be incorporated.
‘I am convinced that today the European economy needs Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina more than the other way around,’ he said. He added that Hungary also has an interest in the success of the Balkans because that enhances the value of the region and, in turn, Hungary itself.