Hungary Announces Millions More in Grants for Bosnia’s Republika Srpska

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto (R) receives Bosnian Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations in his office in Budapest, Hungary, 26 May 2023. EPA-EFE/NOEMI BRUZAK

"In the beginning of June, another 17 million euros will be made available for farmers buying Hungarian farm machinery," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after meeting with Sasa Kosarac, trade minister for Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Friday in Budapest.

Szijjarto recalled that 11 million euros have already been distributed among 768 farmers and local businesses in Republika Srpska.

The Hungarian government is proving especially generous to Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, whose leader Milorad Dodik is regarded as a close ally of Hungary's nationalist-populist prime minister, Viktor Orban. Late last year, Hungary's state-owned Eximbank provided a vital loan of 110 million euros to Republika Srpska to stave off bankruptcy. Finance Minister Zora Vitkovic admitted at the time that "now there will be no problem repaying already existing loans".

In 2021, on a visit to Banja Luka, Orban offered 100 million euros of Hungarian taxpayer money to Dodik, which caught even his own administration by surprise. It took the Foreign Ministry half a year to work out the details. Finally, Szijjarto announced the scheme of a non-returnable grant amounting to 35 million euros in July 2022. Nothing is known about the rest of the money that was promised.

There is speculation that in return Hungarian investors are gaining access to Republika Srpska's energy companies. In August 2022, the Hungarian company Lugos Renewables admitted that Elektroprivreda RS, the major electricity company in Republika Srpska, had sold it 70 per cent of the region's...

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