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INFO   :::  Panels and Conferences > Hungarian Community as a Bridge between Serbia and EU


Hungarian Community as a Bridge between Serbia and EU

12. December 2008.


The third and last panel discussion planned under the project "The Role of the Hungarian Community in Serbia" took place on December 12, 2008, in Novi Sad. The fact that participants in the panel were fewer than on previous occasions in no way affected the debate that was substantive and to the point.

As underlined by some participants, Vojvodina Hungarians strongly support Serbia's pro-European orientation since the country's integration into European structures and its membership of the EU would be more favorable to their interests and needs.

Professor Iren Gabric Molnar said Serbia's Europeanization was a strategic interest of Vojvodina Hungarians as it would foster cross-border cooperation with their mother country and other Hungarian communities within the EU, and change the "peripheral" status of North Vojvodina through regional cooperation.

She illustrated Vojvodina Hungarians' interest in Serbia's Europeanization by findings of a survey. For instance, asked about their biggest social concerns, the great majority of adult interviewees from Vojvodina municipalities inhabited by Hungarians replied, "Lagging behind the world and Europe." Lower on the list of concerns were slow-paced reforms and Vojvodina's "lost" autonomy.

Cultural patterns, multiculturalism, communication with the mother country and the parts of Europe inhabited by Hungarians and the longstanding cross-border cooperation are the values that will growingly promote the role of the Hungarian community in Serbia's Europeanization, said Professor Gabric Molnar. However, in order to profit from such role inasmuch as possible the perception of cross-border cooperation should be changed and centralism in both Serbia and Hungary overcome. For, Belgrade's and Budapest's approval of even the smallest form of economic or other cooperation takes too long, she explained. According to Professor Gabric Molnar, strategic plans for regional development should put emphasis on strengthening of territorial and infrastructural integrity of cross-border areas - and this could be accomplished through promotion of cross-border initiatives, market integration benefits, stronger coherence of local communities and scores of other measures, particularly those focusing research, technologies and development of human resources.

Ferenz Zoldosh of the Adaptatio - D Company said that Vojvodina Hungarians had already attained a certain level of EU knowledge thanks to the fact that the neighboring Hungary was already in the EU membership. According to him, members of Hungarian community had developed projects focusing not only their cultural and national priorities but also some regional aspects aimed at better life of all the people in certain regions. Thanks to the "Apacai" Foundation some 300 people from Vojvodina have been trained in project development for the EU grants, which considerably contributes to overall modernization of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina, he said. He also stressed the Hungarian government's system of assistance to Hungarians beyond Hungary, which have been successfully functioning in the past 18 years in terms of cooperation between Vojvodina Hungarians and the Republic of Hungary.

He panel also addressed the future of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina and Serbia. Historian Zoltan Mesaros reminded that the past 90 years have witnessed exodus of Hungarians from Vojvodina. Therefore, today's Hungarian community is demographically and intellectually diminished, economically impoverished and politically impaired. Hungarians' aspirations towards some forms of autonomy produced no results due to political climate. Assimilation is a natural process, said Mesaros. However, when orchestrated by the government it leads to slow but certain disappearance of minority communities. Solution to the problem, as he put it, is treatment of minority communities as collectivities. "Dispersing collectivities hardly contributes to Serbia's speedier Europeanization," he said.









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