Next year’s budget of the Directorate for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region intended for Serbs in the region has been tripled and amounts to EUR 1.5 million, says the director of the Directorate, Arnaud Gouillon, and adds that these larger funds will make it possible to better help our people in the region, who need it the most, because the position of Serbs in Vukovar or Drvar is not the same as in New York or Paris.

He explains that one part of the Directorate’s budget is set aside for the region, and another for the diaspora.

‘The budget for the region was increased three times. Until now, we have had about EUR 500,000 intended for Serbs in the region, through our competition, and for the next year we will have EUR 1.5 million for that item. That was proposed by President Aleksandar Vučić and it is a big thing for us, because we will be able to do even more for the Serbs in the region’, Gouillon said.

The increased budget, he points out, is proof of great confidence in the Directorate, which will continue to implement the government’s policy in that area.

He reminds that this year and the last, the Directorate implemented pilot projects for economic empowerment of Serbs in Bosanski Petrovac, Posavina, in Bosansko Grahovo, in the north of Montenegro, distributed agricultural machinery, equipment for beekeepers, heifers, etc.

‘These were small-scale projects worth around EUR 100,000, and with the increased budget we will be able to do it systematically, in more places. Such projects are significant, because they enable the people living in those places to become stronger, and they are an expression of the desire to show Serbia’s concern for all its compatriots in the region’, Gouillon said.

‘When we strengthen one family in Glamoč, we strengthen Glamoč and the entire Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is positive, we will work on it and we are making plans for other countries in the region, where we will be able to implement such projects’, Gouillon added.

Regarding supplementary Serbian language schools in the diaspora, Gouillon announces that the network will expand, and that 23 supplementary schools were opened last year alone.

‘Our next year’s focus is South and North America. The needs there are enormous. We have contacts with our people living in those countries’, he said.

He also notes that there is a huge interest in the diaspora in learning the Serbian language, especially for children who were born there, because even if the parents speak Serbian, it does not mean that the children will speak the language as if they were born here, especially when they start school there.

‘That is why those schools are needed, for children to learn the language, culture, history, but also to meet other children who also speak Serbian. That is why they are important and we are developing them’, Gouillon said.

He added that this was done in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, because a new school, one year after opening, joins the system of that Ministry and lasts as long as there are children, and according to him, there are children.

He also states that he will insist that the projects implemented in the diaspora in the coming period be directed towards the local public, that the events be bilingual.

He notes also that there is a great desire in the diaspora to return to their homeland, and it is up to the state, the Directorate, to help them not lose their identity, culture, and language, because if they lose that, return is impossible.

‘The desire is growing, because Serbia today is not what it was 30 years ago. It has changed a lot, developed, and that is noticeable and everyone from the diaspora can see it, but the west, where our people mostly live, has also changed, and there is a crisis there, milk and honey are not flowing, so people no longer idealize the west. They see both the good and the bad there, and they also see what is better here, and decide to return’, Gouillon said.

Source: Glas Srpske-Tanjug

Photo: Arnaud Gouillon