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Bosnian Serb Farmers Await Grants to Buy Hungarian Machinery

epa06471089 Visitors gather by a tractor during a joint exhibition of AGROmashEXPO and Agrargepshow in Hungexpo Fair Center in Budapest, Hungary, 24 January 2018, on the opening of the four-day trade exhibition. Over 300 exhibitors present the latest innovations and trends of the Hungarian agricultural business sector at the fair, which also offers a display of horticultural and vinicultural advancements. EPA-EFE/TAMAS KOVACS HUNGARY OUT

Some 768 farmers from Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, who have been awarded grants ranging from 4,000 to 25,000 euros, have until April 29 to sign contracts for the funds.

The funds are part of Hungary’s Responsible Neighbourhood policy, offered by Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, during his visit to Banja Luka in December 2021, when he promised 100 million euros in financial support for Republika Srpska. 

“Funds for the procurement of agricultural machinery, equipment, and tools have been approved for 95.40 per cent of those who applied,” the Foundation for Sustainable Development “Progressus”, a non-profit in charge of coordinating the grants, said. 

According to Progressus, close to 11.2 million euros will be awarded in the first round, while farmers will contribute with close to 5.2 million euros. 

The first round was announced on July 1 2022, when Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó met the RS president, Milorad Dodik, announcing the allocation of an initial 35 million euros. 

“Thirty-five million euros will be allocated to fund small and medium-sized companies in the country,” Szijjártó said after the meeting.

“They [companies] can receive a maximum of 25,000 euros for the development of or purchase of certain equipment produced in Hungary, and in this way we’ll help [Republika] Srpska’s economy develop within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and our Hungarian companies,” he said.

Hungary is a close ally of Republika Srpska, and Dodik thanked Orban for its help.

Orban opposed EU sanctions on Dodik when Germany proposed them in December last year, citing Dodik’s secessionist actions. Orban then described Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity as “key to the stability of the Western Balkans” and urged the new German government to integrate the region into the EU rather than punish it, which “could lead to even bigger problems”.

“We don’t need the West to talk about us, but with us”, Dodik said at the press conference, referring to Orban’s statement last year. “You’re not defending a ‘bad boy’ but someone who thinks differently and wants to implement their policies,” he added.

Orban threw his full support behind the Bosnian Serb leader, calling him a democratically-elected politician, and warning the West that moves to “exorcise Dodik”, who has repeatedly threatened to take the RS out of Bosnia, would be dangerous.

Source : BalkanInsight