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All elections are important

The Hungarian government of the day that is formed in the motherland has an impact on the fate of the entire Hungarian community in the Carpathian Basin. It is also important whether Hungarian communities living in the territories of neighbouring states succeed in electing appropriate leaders in appropriate numbers, leaders who can stand up for the interests of Hungarian communities. Therefore, all elections are important, the Prime Minister said.

It is a disadvantage for the Hungarian people that we have no kin, “we are a cultural and linguistic island in the middle of Europe,” the Prime Minister observed, adding that their mission is to ensure that Hungarian culture survives.

He also pointed out that no one should see the outcome of this Sunday’s election as a foregone conclusion, and therefore asked the Hungarians of Vojvodina to cast their votes and “to elect Hungarians”.

According to the Prime Minister, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) is a candidate with extensive experience, a reputable past and good references.

VMSZ is capable of uniting Hungarians under a single umbrella within the widest possible range, he added.

He further highlighted that President of VMSZ István Pásztor had always kept his word and had honoured all agreements.

Therefore, we have reason to believe that as long as he is the leader of Hungarians in Vojvodina, the relationship between the Hungarian government and the Hungarian community in Serbia will rest on robust foundations of trust, he said.

Mr Orbán underlined that the outcome of the elections would also fundamentally affect Hungarian-Serbian relations.

We have a battered past. It takes effort, good intentions, trust and friendship to look upon one another as friends and allies, he stressed, adding that those in government in Serbia at present share this view.

The Prime Minister said it is a major achievement that in Vojvodina hostilities ceased and members of the two communities no longer look upon one another with suspicion. However, he took the view that it would be possible to live better, to set up more businesses and to earn more.

The prospects of a good life have yet to be explored in Vojvodina both for Hungarians and Serbs, he pointed out.

According to Mr Orbán, it is important to turn the good relations forged in politics into as many tangible advantages as possible equally for Hungarians and Serbs.

Budapest must not focus solely on Vojvodina, it must keep in sight the whole of Serbia. Likewise, Hungarian capital must not stop in Vojvodina; we should try to set up as many Serbian-Hungarian enterprises as possible in the whole of Serbia. “We need a strong Serbian economy, the stronger our neighbours are the more we benefit,” he said.

The Prime Minister also highlighted that, in his view, the European Union needs Serbia more than Serbia needs the EU. He took the view that by virtue of the fact that, with the abatement of the coronavirus epidemic, Hungary was the first to open its borders towards Serbia, it could also contribute to the country’s European integration. According to Mr Orbán, Serbia is a key state for the EU also in the context of security.

“Without Serbia, it is impossible to guarantee Europe’s security,” he stressed.

Regarding the Belgrade-Budapest railway line, he said it is a “flagship-sized programme”. He also observed that its Hungarian section is making somewhat slower progress than it should. He added that we would need a few more Serbian-Hungarian projects on a similar scale as this would prove to Serbs and Hungarians spectacularly that they are able to cooperate.

At the same time, these would spectacularly prove also to the European Union that Serbia is capable of implementing overarching projects, and there is a need for involving the country in overarching projects, the Prime Minister said, adding that they are engaged in ongoing talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about further opportunities, including in the energy sector.

In the interview, Mr Orbán also highlighted that before 2010 Hungary “as motherland was more like a step-mother, while in the past ten years it has behaved like a true mother”.

At the same time, he promised Hungarians in Vojvodina that they can continue to count on Hungary as a true motherland also in the future.