– I have not come to this Conference to give a teaching to anyone, but rather to learn from Péter Erdő and other leaders – started his speech Aleksandar Vučić. The President of Serbia then went on to explain that there is a town in Serbia, by the name of Kikinda, which has a population of 35 thousand.
– Last year, in Serbia we lost as many people as the entire population of Kikinda – he explained, hinting at the severity of the country’s demographics, adding that Serbian people even have a dedicated expression for this dramatic decline: the ‘white epidemic’. He also noted that most wealth was focused in Belgrade, coupled with the lowest birth rates, while in the countryside, in poorer areas, there were more children born.
– What might be the reason behind this? Personal selfishness and the strive for personal self-fulfilment, as Cardinal Péter Erdő explained, or something different? - asked the President of Serbia.
Aleksandar Vučić believes that no-one can tell for sure whether current measures will turn out to be effective. However, we must learn from each other so that we can take action. At this stage, whatever support we provide, we cannot be assured of success. Quoting Viktor Orbán he noted that the way policy measures work is that we have to give them our best today, while we will only start seeing results in 10 years’ time.
– ‘I travel around Serbia day-by-day and try and convince young people to have faith in our continued national survival’ – he stressed, adding that they had the ambition to have a state where it was possible to live a good life and establish a family.
The President also mentioned that there were reforms taking place in Serbia.
– This year we can already present some quite positive results. Currently, Serbia is one of the world’s largest construction sites, as we have started providing funding and subsidies with a view to boosting childbearing. We have, amongst others, tripled family benefits. We are just starting to see some small initial results in the poorest areas of Serbia, while in other regions our achievements are not yet visible. I am not too optimistic about the future, and that’s why I have come – I am here to learn, he explained.
– In the 20th century we, Serbs fought the highest number of wars. Now the emphasis has shifted from territorial issues to the survival of people – to our sheer existence. Aging societies and the issue of migration leave a lot of room for cooperation and experience sharing – continued the President. Talking of successes, he reported that last year a quarter of women with three children had a diploma of higher education – something inconceivable just a decade ago. The number of marriages grew by 1%, while 700 thousand more children were born than in the previous year.
– Demography is an important matter for the state; however, we can only reach results in co-operation with our citizens - emphasised Aleksandar Vučić. As he explained, it was important to embrace motherhood, as it is vital for survival. We need to reinforce the role of families and create the right conditions for childbearing.
– I have come to learn from you. Serbia is ready to co-operate with Hungary and other Eastern European countries, as together we have the potential to find a solution – closed his speech the Serbian President.