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Selakovic and Gouillon delivered aid to 35 Serbian households in Bosanski Petrovac

11 December 2021 

Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selakovic and Director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region Arnaud Gouillon visited the municipality of Bosanski Petrovac, where within the Project of economic empowerment of returnee households in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), they handed over aid to 35 Serbian households engaged in agriculture.

Minister Selakovic and Director Gouillon handed over contracts for the donation of 35 pregnant heifers, and the Head of Serbian diplomacy said that today we are sending a message of love, peace and solidarity and that with this assistance we are showing that we can do something good for ordinary people.

"You may rest assured that Serbia will continue to send such messages both in the Federation and in the Republic of Srpska, in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while respecting its territorial integrity, but showing love for Srpska", said Minister Selakovic in his address to the families who received the aid.

Minister Selakovic emphasized that he was convinced that this assistance would be only the first in a series provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region.

As he noted, the aid that was delivered today would have been impossible if the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, the then Prime Minister, had not started a wave of serious, important reforms in Serbia back in 2014, which gave results in creating new value and greater social wealth, thus moving Serbia forward from being in a state of stagnation, disorganization and social and economic chaos, and which ensured Serbia becoming one of the fastest growing economies in Europe for the second year in a row.

“That would not be possible if our policy in the region has not been and remained the policy of a helping hand, because there is no well-being if only you are doing well and the neighbours are not, and the policy of our state and the policy of President Aleksandar Vucic is that when we are well, we should also help others be well", underlined Minister Selakovic.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy said that his heart was full today to see diligent, hard-working and brave people who are engaged in cattle breeding.

"Both Serbs and Bosniaks are sitting here. It is not well when only some of us are doing well, there is no well-being in that case. We must all work together a lot harder for the benefit of all of us, and if we all work together, the chances of us getting better will be much greater", said Minister Selakovic.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy stated that he was proud that the first project was realized, with the significant support of President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, and that a total of 62 families who applied for the call for the provision of assistance met the requirements.

"There are 27 more families that have yet to be donated a heifer. We agreed today that in the next three months, those 27 families will also get their heifers. Good and hardworking people should be supported. We agreed to try to do something similar not only in Petrovac, but also in Sanski Most, Drvar, Grahovo, Glamoc", said Minister Selakovic.

The Director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, Arnaud Gouillon, said that the Office had launched projects of economic empowerment of Serb returnee families in the Federation of BiH, amounting to a total of 9,162,000 dinars.

"We have divided this into three projects on the territory of Bosanski Petrovac, Grahovo and Posavina. These are pilot projects, the first of their kind that the Office launched this year together with local Serbian NGOs.

Support to Serbian households engaged in livestock farming and agriculture aims to create self-sustaining family economies. The first goal is that their capacities fully meet the needs of the family, and the second goal is to be able to market the surplus", Gouillon said.

He said that, the day before in Posavina, milling machines, motor cultivators, trimmers and chainsaws were handed over to Serbs who are engaged in agriculture in that part of the Federation of BiH.

"Our ultimate goal is to form a cooperative that would bring all those people together, all those Serbian farmers and make their work easier. Two million dinars were invested in this project, and 40 households with more than 140 members were included ", Gouillon said.

According to him, in Grahovo, beekeeping equipment worth one million dinars was provided from the funds of the Republic of Serbia, in order to help returnees whose livelihood depended on honey production, and 6,162,000 dinars was allocated for the third project implemented through the Returnee Support Centre from Bosanski Petrovac for the procurement of pregnant heifers.

Gouillon emphasized that a donation was given today to brave and determined people who, with their optimism, proved that they believed in a better tomorrow, and that the help they received will be an incentive and motivation to dedicate themselves even more energetically to their work and be more successful.

"That assistance clearly indicates that their motherland, theirs, our Serbia, thinks of and cares about them, about their fate and well-being", Gouillon underlined, who also visited some of the households that received the aid together with Minister Selakovic.

Selakovic and Gouillon visited households in Bosanski Petrovac

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selakovic and Director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region Arnaud Gouillon visited today households in Bosanski Petrovac in the Federation of BiH that were each donated one pregnant heifer, within the projects co-financed by the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region.

These are five-member returnee families with three children each, to whom, as they say, this help means a lot.

One of them is the family of Steva Loncar, who is primarily engaged in agriculture, but also in forestry, beekeeping and hunting.

He stated that there were returns to Bosanski Petrovac and that even more people would return, if they were enabled to work.

"To encourage this a little, to do something so that work can be done. We have everything we need for life - water, roads, telephones, electricity, it is only just that young people go abroad looking for work", said Loncar.

Snezana Jelicic, who has three children and whose husband passed away, also says that the help is significant.

"I am a single mother with three children and this heifer means a lot to us because our income is low, and all my children go to school", said Snezana, who modestly stated, as did her 11-year-old son Milos, that they did not need anything else.

With this help, the Jelicic household now has a total of two cows in the barn, thanks to which, says Snezana, there will be more milk, cheese and cream for sale.

Earlier today, Serb and Bosniak returnee families in Bosanski Petrovac were presented with contracts for the donation of a total of 35 pregnant heifers.

Apart from the heifers for cattle breeders in Bosanski Petrovac, for which more than six million dinars were earmarked, Serbian families in Posavina received assistance in the form of agricultural machinery, for which two million dinars were allocated.

These are 43 households in the local community of Novi Grad, the municipality of Odzak, in the territory of the Posavina Canton, that were donated motor cultivators, trimmers, chainsaws and fruit sprayers.

Within the projects co-financed by the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, one million dinars have been allocated as assistance to beekeepers in Bosansko Grahovo.

Selakovic: We will continue to help Serbs in BiH and their Bosniak neighbours

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selakovic stated today, after handing over assistance to 35 families in Bosanski Petrovac, that Serbia would continue to help Serbs in Bosanski Petrovac, Drvar, Grahovo and Glamoc, but also their Bosniak neighbours.

“It is not acceptable that only some of us are doing well while others suffer. That is what our policy stands for, our regional policy. Much like when President Aleksandar Vucic initiated the policy of donating vaccines to both the Federation and the Republic of Srpska, North Macedonia and Montenegro at the beginning of this year, and when Serbia opened its borders to all citizens from the neighbouring countries who wanted to be vaccinated, today we are helping our compatriots in Bosanska Krajina.

"We will continue to do so, because only an economically strong and successful Serbia can provide good support to the Republic of Srpska, but also to all Serbs living in the area", said Minister Selakovic.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy said that in the last four years, Serbia provided assistance to Drvar amounting to 2,915,000 euros for specific projects, and to Bosanski Petrovac of around 250,000 euros for several communal projects.

“This time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region together with the Returnee Support and Assistance Centre headed by Nemanja Davidovic in Bosanski Petrovac helped 35 returnee families, not only Serbs but also Bosniaks, who received one pregnant heifer each”, said Minister Selakovic.

According to the Minister, President Aleksandar Vucic had at one point initiated painful reforms that were showing results, and Serbia began to help Serbs in Bosanska Krajina more and more every year.

The Director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, Arnaud Gouillon, said that this year, for the first time, the Office supported and financed three self-sustainable projects in Posavina, Bosanski Petrovac and Grahovo.

"Yesterday we donated agricultural machinery in Posavina, today 35 heifers in Bosanski Petrovac, and beekeeping equipment in Grahovo. The total value is nine million dinars. By doing so, we want to send the message that the motherland, our Serbia, is with its people, with the returnees, with other people who share the fate of the returnees and the Serbian people, to show them our care and solidarity.

In the period ahead, we will continue with similar projects for the benefit of all who live in this area", Gouillon said.

Nemanja Davidovic from the Returnee Support and Assistance Centre in Bosanski Petrovac said that the aid delivered today meant a lot to Bosanski Petrovac and stated that this was the second largest investment of the Republic of Serbia in that municipality.

“Even the greatest of suffering is easier when you have friends, and the state of Serbia, Minister Selakovic and Arnaud Gouillon are our friends”, Davidovic said.

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