The contribution to dynamic development is a complex and permanent task for a number of stakeholders. “The AP Vojvodina’s Assembly is one of these stakeholders and a very important one. Its contribution is reflected, first and foremost, in the compliance with constitutional, legal and statutory obligations through the adoption of decrees that come under its jurisdiction. However, the Assembly has another, very important task which is creating the necessary social climate. The Assembly legitimizes and invests effort and dedication, as well as has a representative role in relation to the society in general, inwardly and outwardly,” says István Pásztor, President of the AP Vojvodina Assembly, adding:
“Vojvodina’s future cannot be viewed separately from the development future of the Republic of Serbia. For this reason, when contemplating about Vojvodina and its developmental perspective, we should always bear in mind that this is all part of a wider state, regional and even international context. In this broad context, we must constantly think, find our way around and obtrude ourselves, while looking for opportunities, taking care of ourselves and strengthening the entity.”
In which way do deputies participate in promoting the Province’s cultural and investment potential?
— The activities conducted by our deputies are aimed at developing a network of contacts, bolstering institutional cooperation and more efficient use of funds for cross-border cooperation. For example, one of the projects implemented by the Banat Museum from Reșița and Vršac Museum, with the framework of Danube–Criș–Mureș–Tisa Euroregion which connects 5.3 million people living in Romania, Hungary and the AP Vojvodina, was about popularization of the common historical and cultural heritage of the Romanian and Serbian population living in the valleys of Caraş and Nera. The most notable result of this project was the publication of a bilingual edition, which contains results of architectural, ethnographic and ethnological research. In March 2018, in partnership with the Ópusztaszer National Historic Memorial Park, the Senta Historic Archive started implementing a cross-border project called “Living Archive – Relics of Common Cultural Heritage” under the auspices of the Hungary-Serbia IPA cross-border cooperation programme. The goal of the project is to collect and preserve the joint cultural heritage with a special emphasis on an insufficiently researched segment of agricultural heritage. The AP Vojvodina has had a long-standing parliamentary, cultural and economic cooperation with the German federal state of Baden Württemberg. In March 2017, under the framework of the Strategic Call under the Hungary-Serbia INTERREG-IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme, the implementation of the project titled “Diverse Cooperation in Tourism and Cultural Heritage” was approved. As part of the project, two cultural centres are going to be built – the Serbian Cultural Centre in Morahalom (expected to open in spring 2019) and the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Palić, which construction started in October 2018. The deputies of the AP Vojvodina Assembly are actively involved in all these activities.
To what extent does Vojvodina use the EU funds via cross-border projects and withdraw the funds for agriculture?
— The Assembly of the AP Vojvodina has signed cooperation protocols, protocols of intent and joint declarations of intent with Vukovar-Srijem County, Istria County, Upper Austria, Bács- Kiskun County, Styria, the Republic of Srpska, Kirovgrad, Alba County, Jász- Nagykun-Szolnok County, Hessen, Csongrád County, Baden-Württemberg and Prešov Self-Governing Region. In the Croatia-Hungary-Serbia tristate area we have established a long-standing cooperation whilst initiating the development of economy, tourism and tourism-related branches. In March 2017, under the framework of the Strategic Call under the Hungary- Serbia INTERREG-IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme, a total of five projects were approved, valued at over 28 million euro. The importance of these projects can be viewed from the perspective of solving problems of citizens (“Water Supply and Infrastructure Development in the Border Regions”, “Comprehensive Improvement of the Water Management Areas of the Baja-Bezdan Channel” – Reconstruction and Revival of the Bezdan Lock and the Šebešfok Dam”, “The Railway Project of the Subotica-Baja Segment”- technical documentation; this section is part of the Subotica-Čikerija-Bácsalmás-Baja railroad, “Development of the Cross-Border Road Kübekháza-Rabe” and “Diverse Cooperation in Tourism and Cultural Heritage”). Projects from the Danube Strategy are financed through IPA funds, with 64 projects being implemented on the territory of Serbia. Most of the IPA project partners from Vojvodina are institutions (various provincial companies, funds) – eight in total, then faculties of the University of Novi Sad – seven of them; five local self-governments (Sombor, Apatin, Kanjiža, Subotica and Sremski Karlovci), two agencies and associations, while the Provincial Secretariat for Energy, Construction and Transport is a partner in one IPA project.
What is Vojvodina’s potential in development of scientific and innovation capacities?
— For decades, the Assembly of the AP Vojvodina, the University of Novi Sad and the Provincial Government have been investing effort in developing a wide network of partnerships between universities, research institutes and companies, in order to facilitate the translation of scientific achievements into practice and build the pillars of the knowledge society – ethics of responsibility, ethics of trust and a scientific, human and solidarity-based society that upholds the common good. The AP Vojvodina Research and Innovation Programme, covering the period from 2015 to 2020, is important because there is no regional development, economic progress or innovation without previously established standards, coordinates and rules. It is not possible to prepare analyses and assessments of regional natural and human potentials, and network between different participants around a future vision, nor the strengthening of innovation systems and platforms for sharing know-how and experiences without previously set standards. By actively participating in innovation communities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the AP Vojvodina and the Republic of Serbia are becoming part of the European and international community of knowledge and are setting social development objectives such as creating and democratizing knowledge, stimulating economic growth by investing in research & development, innovation and human capital, as well advocating the promotion and protection of the common good. I would especially like to single out the activities the BioSense Centre at the University of Novi Sad. BioSense is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary science and research centre and a regional provider of advanced information and communication technologies for precision agriculture, forestry and environmental protection.
How important is for Vojvodina to nurture close ties with Hungary and what effects do you expect to see in the Province as a result of the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest railroad and the stronger transport connections between the two countries?
— Our two political communities have had a long and complicated history of mutual relations. As it sometimes happened in the past 150-200 years, we had taken different sides and this historical heritage burdens our common past. Regardless of the fact that politics is focused on the present and the future, the relations from the past are, to some extent, determined by the present and the future. I would especially like to underline the fact that, through joint efforts, we have managed to “step over our own shadow”, so to speak, in the relations between the Serbs and Hungarians. The centuries-long relations between Serbia and Hungary and reliance on each other inevitably impose cooperation in all areas of life. The governments of both countries nurture and promote the political, economic and cultural framework of cooperation by regularly holding joint sessions, which create a strong political framework for concrete forms of cooperation in different fields. It is also quite important to mention that six years ago, on June 23rd, 2013, the then Serbian and Hungarian presidents, Tomislav Nikolić and János Áder respectively, paid their respects to the victims of war crimes in Čurug and thus initiated a process of historical reconciliation. Also, the myriad of agreements concluded between the governments of Hungary and Serbia have national, provincial and international importance. In short, the importance of joint projects is not measured only by their significance in international or national contexts, but by the degree of availability and mobility, as well as by finding more efficient and simpler solutions to everyday problems of the people living on both sides of the border. The implementation of the project of modernization and reconstruction of the Belgrade – Budapest railroad has begun. This is certainly the largest joint infrastructure development project, which, in addition to energy integration, creates common development opportunities.