Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán pledges continued support to Bosnian Serbs

Bosnia's Serb community can rely on Hungary's continued support as "the two nations depend on each other", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Banja Luka where he was presented a state award on Friday.

Orbán received the Order of Merit of the Republika Srpska from Milorad Dodik, the president of the autonomous Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Orbán said it was an honour to receive the award, “an expression of friendship, trust and mutual optimism for the future”.

Speaking of the European Union, he said the bloc “lacks the recognition that it needs Serbs, that there is no European security and stability, and no healthy European Union without Serbs”.

He called international politics “unfair and demeaning to Serbs” and said he had always stood up for them in international forums.

“While the EU has a lot of problems, there is currently no better international framework for nations to grow stronger,” he said.

During its EU presidency starting on July 1, Orbán said Hungary would appoint a team dedicated to issues connected to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The decision on Bosnia and Serbia’s integration should have been made long ago; that decision was “pushed to the back seat by the fever dream of an enlargement in the East,” he added.

He said Hungary stood by concluding the enlargement procedure in the Western Balkans and then moving on to “the more difficult and complicated eastern issue”.

Orbán also objected to what he called attempts to influence Bosnian issues from abroad. “The procedure could lose momentum and lead to a political crisis, devaluing Europe’s work.” Foreign influence is “bad for everyone, for Europe, the Serbs and Bosnia”, he said.

Hungary sees the Western Balkans as a region “with a great future”, and important investment opportunities in the Republika Srpska, he said.

He praised bilateral ties between the two countries, including financial cooperation and an agricultural support scheme.

In his laudation, Dodik said that the honour, presented on the occasion of the Day of Bosnia’s Serb Republic, was given to the Hungarian prime minister in recognition of his achievements in developing bilateral relations. He highlighted the friendship between the two nations and thanked Orbán for his continued support.

Dodik said they would strive for “expanding cooperation on a personal level” in universities, sports and tourism.

He called Hungary an example in its approach to the family and in preserving a traditional society.

“Europe needs strong leaders such as Viktor Orbán,” he said, and thanked him for “standing up for a fairer world”.

On Thursday, Orbán met Bosnian Prime Minister Borjana Kristo, and the leaders of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country’s other entity. He discusses improving bilateral ties and current European issues with Denis Becirovic, the Bosnian and Zeljko Komsic, the Croatian member of the Federation’s leadership. Kristo thanked Orbán for his “unwavering support to Sarajevo’s EU integration” and called for further economic cooperation.

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