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
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.