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NOVEMBER BUSINESS LEADERS’ MEETING POINT

SAMANTHA BROSSETTE High School & College/University Counsellor at the International School of Belgrade

DR NEBOJŠA STANKOVIĆ Attorney

School As An Inspiration

Human To Human

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VUK RADOVIĆ Vice Chairman of the Board and General Manager at EKO Serbia

VLADICA STANKOVIĆ Director at GRUNER SERBIAN D.O.O. (Ltd.), Vlasotince

Creators Of Trends

German Ingenuity And Domestic Dedication

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MILOŠ VUJNOVIĆ Ph.D., President of the Executive Board of JUBMES banka AD (JSC) Beograd

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Negative Trends Halted NOVEMBER

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CORPORATE

SAMANTHA BROSSETTE, HIGH SCHOOL & COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY COUNSELLOR AT THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BELGRADE

School As An Inspiration “The most important advice I can offer students is to begin the process of university preparation early,” says ISB High School & College/University Counsellor Samantha Brossette

W

hen the name of the International School of Belgrade is mentioned to ordinary citizens, it sounds to them like something akin to Oxford in the UK – equally as “far away” and equally “unreachable”. However, the reality is different. This school, which is attended by children aged from three to 18, is traditionally more “Belgrade” and “Serbian” than many local schools, while by reputation it is “global”. Founded back in 1948, with the aim of providing a high-quality education to children of the international community in Belgrade, ISB creates an inspiring, student-centred and individualised approach to the learning process. In this interview for CorD, responding to the question of how ISB copes with so many different cultures, religions, ways of thinking, and lifestyles – considering that pupils come from the most diverse parts of the world – Samantha Brossette answers simply My first inclination is to applaud the parents of our students. - When they enrol their children here, they fully understand and embrace the concept that not only are their children spending every day with students from multiple nationalities and speaking 28 |

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multiple languages, but they are also embracing the idea of their children being exposed to and taught from intercultural perspectives and educational philosophies that could indeed differ greatly from their own. Likewise, as teachers, support staff and administrators, we intentionally chose a career which provides this amazing opportunity for us to live in a foreign country and also engage with people every day who encourage us and challenge us to consider differing perspectives, as well as providing us with the ability to see the world through different lenses. We actively teach and encourage an ethos of curiosity, acceptance and celebration of other nationalities, which is facilitated both within the classroom

There is no question that our students are very fortunate, but – like all school-aged children around the world – they are growing and learning to become responsible, kind and hardworking people and without, and is also demonstrated through our International Day here at ISB. In our increasingly global society, this exposure to, and conceptualisation of, differing ideologies – be they regarding education, religion, political thought and so on – gives our students a brilliant advantage in terms of being and becoming global citizens. Additionally, most of our students opt to attend tertiary education in a foreign country; therefore, our international environment prepares them wonderfully for this experience.

■ On the other hand, as we have already mentioned, the perception of ISB is such that it appears to be a haven for children and teenagers who have no problems in life whatsoever. What specific problems do your pupils face; what problems do they come to you with, as a psychologist, for help? - While ISB is indeed a vibrant academic institution, it would of course be remiss to state that our students have no issues whatsoever. There is no question that our students are very fortunate, but – like all school-aged children around the world – they are growing and learning to become responsible, kind and hardworking people; none are exempt from “growing pains.” Many of our students are what we call “third culture kids” meaning they are being raised in a culture outside their own; this can certainly present challenges at times. Likewise, many of our students frequently move, due to their parents’ employment; this process of adapting to a new environment, making new friends, packing up and doing it all over again can be very daunting for some children. In my many years working with children and having lived in a culture outside my own as well when I was a young person, I fully understand that the strong need to feel accepted and to “fit in” has a profound impact on our students. Perhaps surprisingly, anxiety is an increasingly problematic issue that children deal with. Research literature, as well as my own clinical experience, reveals that even though children may seem to be coping externally, there exist internal struggles which children need some support to get through. We, as parents, often forget that things which may seem small or insignificant from our perspec-


able; flexible in terms of adapting to the enormous changes we are witnessing globally? - ISB is a comprehensive International Baccalaureate School, which means our school ■ Would you say that the ISB educahas adapted an internationally recognised ■ Considering that one of your fields of tion system and curriculum are adaptcurriculum that “offers highly respected expertise is also university enrolprogrammes of international educament counselling, what kind of tion which develop the intellectual, ISB is a comprehensive specific advice do children seek when personal emotional and social skills International discussing their further schooling needed to live, learn and work in a Baccalaureate School, which and what do you help them with sperapidly globalising world”. The procifically? Students have a myriad of means our school has adapted gramme begins with this philosophy questions regarding their future and an internationally-recognised in primary school and culminates higher education. with a rigorous university preparation curriculum that “offers highly - Our students have so many oppordiploma programme for years 11 and respected programmes of tunities available to them in terms of 12, in which pupils are able to choose where they wish to study, I believe international education which courses that are interesting to them, this to be their greatest source of but also will benefit them in terms develop the intellectual, questioning: which nations’ approach university admissions and future personal emotional and social of to university is the best fit for them educational and career goals. Perhaps skills needed to live, learn individually. Naturally, broaching the many of you have read at least one of topic of where to study evokes questhe multiple reports written regarding and work in a rapidly tions around scholarships, particularly Finland’s exquisite education system? globalising world” regarding U.S. universities, as they can I believe that ISB in many ways follows be extremely expensive. They are this trajectory, in terms of inquirycurious about what kinds of doors based, project learning practises. will be opened to them with regard Just this week our middle years’ to where and what they will study. programme director presented The most important advice I can a pilot initiative of inquiry-based offer students is to begin the learning in which students will process of university preparation create projects through which early. Typically, students begin they integrate several core building their university profile in subjects. This kind of hands-on grade 9 - considering participation approach to integrated learning in extracurricular activities, leaderoffers students a “real world” apship, volunteering and the like, and proach to critical thinking, synthesising and team effort – elements most certainly academic excellence. that will be required when they Administration of aptitude tests is one day enter the workplace. ■ additionally important, since the tive may be colossal from the perspective of a young person. This is merely one of the reasons why it is so very important to maintain close and communicative relationships with our children.

application of these provides them with knowledge about themselves, and possibilities for the future which they otherwise may not have known existed.

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LOCAL NEWS

VOW

“As long as Aleksandar Vučić is the supreme commander and president of the Republic of Serbia, and as long as I am the defence minister, Serbia will not be a member of NATO and will not be a member of any military alliance, just as it will never impose sanctions on the Russian Federation”— ALEKSANDAR VULIN, Serbian Defence Minister

DIRECT MEDIA ACADEMY

NELT

Consumers Spur Trends

€15 Million In Logistics Expansion

Over 500 marketing professionals attended the Direct Media Academy’s Belgrade presenta- DAVID MATTIN tion of the world’s leading marketing expert hub, Trendwatching. The five global trends in marketing for 2018 that were identified during this presentation include offering a service or product by using artificial intelligence; being present everywhere and at all times in completely new places and contexts; connecting young people with peers who share the same interests; companies making internal changes for the better (and talking about it!); and, finally, being different and unpredictable. “Consumerbehaviourandexpectationsarechanging faster than ever. Watching trends allows you to see newly emerging consumer expectations before they hit your business, so that you can innovative in order to respond. In an environment of rapid change, you need to become your own trend watcher!” said David Mattin,TrendwatchingGlobalHeadofTrends&Insights. Direct Media Academy (DMA) is a regional education programme that has, to date, been completed by more than 300 participants. This year’s DMA hosted a team of Trendwatching lecturers: David Mattin, Delia Dumitrescu Lead Innovation Architect and David Mattin, TrendWatching’s Global Head of Trends & Insights.

The Nelt Group is set to invest 15 million eurosintheregionalexpansionofitsintegrated logistics services next year. Nelt, one of the most successful domestic business systems, marks two and a half decades of doing business in 2018. Throughout that time, it has recorded stable year-on-year growth,expandedtonewmarketsandacquired companies from the distribution and logistics segment. The 13 companies of the Nelt Group today employ almost 4,000 people on eight

markets in Southeast Europe and Africa. As a leader in the provision of the most up-to-date distributionandlogisticsservices,Neltrecorded steady growth again this year, generating total net revenue of €900 million. “Investing in the education of employees, as well as the production and service capacities of all companies in our system, and improving cooperation with the local community, will all remain in our focus in the future,” said Nelt Group CEO Miloš Jelić.

MILOŠ JELIĆ

GRUNER

New Production Facility In Vlasotince German company Gruner, which operates in Serbia, invested €3.5 million into a new production facility covering 3000m2 in its factory in Vlasotince, which will provide for the creation of 100 new jobs. The new plant employs 50 workers, while the total number of workers currently engaged at the factory amounts to 480; the plan is to employ another 50 workers in the new facility by 2020. Furthermore, a workshop was opened for training students specialising in industrial mechanics at the Technical School in Vlasotince. The new production facility was opened by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, while the floor was also taken by the General Manager of Gruner, Eduard Schpreizer, President of the Municipality of Vlasotince, Zoran Todorović, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia, Axel Dittmann, and Economy Minister Goran Knežević. Company Gruner Serbian d.o.o., which has been operating in Serbia for the past 10 years, is the daughter company of German company Gruner A.G., which deals in the production of relays, solenoids and actuators, which are mostly Source: JugPress applied in the automotive industry.

FOREIGN INVESTORS COUNCIL SERBIA

DIREKTNA BANKA

FIC Delegation Visits EU Institutions In Brussels

Piraeus Bank To Sell Its Serbian Operations To Direktna Banka

With a series of meetings with representatives of the European Commission held in Brussels on 5th and 6th October, the delegation of the Foreign Investment Council (FIC) continued its engagement in Serbia’s European integra- ANA FIRTEL, FIC Executive Director (left) tion process. The main aim of the visit was to send clear messages to the European Commission to provide and expand its support to Serbia, both through accession negotiations and assistance instruments. During this fourth annual visit to Brussels, the FIC presented its position on the business climate in Serbia and recommendations for its improvement, with a special focus on activities that the European Commission could implement in order to help reform initiatives. As a good step, the FIC highlighted the formation of the Working Group for the implementation of White Book recommendations that was formed jointly by the FIC and the Government of Serbia, and expressed expectations that it would contribute to accelerating reforms. The Council confirmed its willingness to cooperate with both the European Commission and the Government of Serbia in order to bring the Serbian market closer to the rules and practices of the EU - which will contribute to the business community, citizens and the state, and will certainly raise the entire business and investment climate to a higher level. And this is a key aim of the Foreign Investors Council.

Greece’s Piraeus Bank said it has agreed to sell its Serbian banking and leasing operations to Serbian lender Direktna Banka for a cash consideration of around €60 million. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, following the receipt of all necessary approvals. “In accordance with our Restructuring Plan commitments to reduce our international presence, we are announcing the sale of our Serbian operations to Direktna Banka after a highly competitive sale process,” said Christos Megalou , CEO of Piraeus Group. The transaction is conditional upon the usual corporate and regulatory approvals. In July, Direktna Banka Kragujevac completed the integration of Findomestic Banka Beograd, which it acquired from BNP Paribas in February. Direktna Banka was established after Serbian entrepreneurs Andrej Jovanovic and Bojan Milovanovic acquired KBM banka from Slovenian Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor (NKBM) in February 2016.

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STRENGTH

BIOGEST

“No country in the region has the strength of Serbia, none has more than one MiG-29 - and we have ten. We measure ourselves against much more modern countries that are much richer”— ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia

Biogest Opens Production Facility In Novi Sad After England, Scotland, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy and France, Austrian company Biogest has opened a Serbian branch in Novi Sad. Biogest is an international manufacturer of biogas OPENING CEREMONY plants in Europe and covers the entire chain of biogas exploitation. Opening the office and branch in Serbia, Martin Schlerka, CEO and managing partner, pointed out that, in addition to mutual cooperation, this company’s goal is to hire subcontractors in the country in which they operate and to further develop their projects. “We hope that these projects will encourage others to become involved in the exploitation of biomass. Over 130 projects that we have implemented on the territory of a large part of the European Union and beyond its borders speak in favour of the fact that biomass is the future in terms of RES “, said the director of Biogest.

Placements & postings appointments@aim.rs

▪ H.E. ANDERS

CHRISTIAN HOUGÅRD New Danish Ambassador to Serbia

H.E. Anders Hougård was born in 1954 in Jutland, Western Denmark. After completing his military service in 1975, Mr Hougård served in the Danish police from 1976 to 1992, during which he obtained an MA in Law from Aarhus University. He entered the foreign service in 1992. Following postings in Riyadh, Moscow, Islamabad and St. Petersburg, he was appointed ambassador to Pakistan in 2008. Prior to arriving in Belgrade, he also served as ambassador in Tehran and Zagreb. Ambassador Hougård received an LLM (Master of Laws) from Harvard Law School and additionally holds a university degree in contemporary Middle East Studies. He is married.

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT

Setting Up National Council For Tourism Development The Serbian government adopted the Decision on the formation of the National Council for Tourism Development of the Republic of Serbia, which aims to establish coordination and communication of all involved parties in the development of the tourism industry and the positioning of Serbia on the tourist map of the world. The task of the Council will be to point out the importance of increasing competitiveness in the field of tourism in Serbia, as RASIM LJAJIĆ well as achieving a better business climate in tourism. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić was appointed Chairman of the Council. SOCIETE GENERALE

Supporting Small And Medium-Sized Companies Societe Generale Bank and Sogelease (100% owned by Societe Generale Bank) signed with the European Investment Bank (EIB) two finance contracts for support to small and medium-sized companies, Mid-Cap companies and priority projects in the amount of €60 million. The total loan arrangement amounts to €110 million, and the remaining portion of funds will be released in early 2018. The contract was signed by Maria Rousseva, president of the Executive Board of Societe Generale Banka Srbija and Boris Stević, president of the Executive Board of Sogelease. The funds provided under these contracts will be used for the financing of working MARIA ROUSSEVA (right) and BORIS STEVIĆ capital loans and investments with a repayment period of up to 12 years for loans granted by Societe Generale Bank and up to seven years for Sogelease investment loans. “We are aware that small and medium business is a great challenge because, in addition to a good business plan and a good idea, being successful on the market also requires improving the overall environment,” declared Maria Rousseva, president of the Executive Board of Societe Generale Bank.

▪ H.E. GORDAN BAKOTA

New Croatian Ambassador to Serbia

H.E. Gordan Bakota graduated from the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Law in 1991. Following an internship at the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia, he gained employment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and remained there as a

career diplomat. Prior to his arrival in Belgrade, he has served as Croatian ambassador to the Republic of Austria, as well as the Republic of Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. During his career, he has also served as state secretary, assistant minister and political director at the foreign ministry, as well as holding a number of ambassadorial duties in the Swiss Confederation, the Republic of Serbia and the United States. He studied at Georgetown University in Washington. A married father of two children, Ambassador Bakota speaks English and German.

▪ H.E. EMILIO JOSE

DE CARVALHO GUERRA

New Ambassador of Angola to Serbia

H.E. Emilio Jose de Carvalho Guerra (73) graduated in Agronomy in the former USSR and from 1970 to 1979 served as Director of the Institute of Education of Angola, Director of the Foreign Relations Department of the MPLA, Inspector General of the Ministry of Industry and Energy and Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy. From 1979 to ‘87, Mr Guerra was Minister of Fisheries, and from 1984 to ‘94 he served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Netherlands and the former EEC (current European Union). In 1994 he was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Congo – Brazzaville, and from 2001 to ‘09 he held ambassadorial posts to the Republic of Gabon (resident) and respectively to Cameroon, Guinea and Chad (non-resident). H.E. Emilio Jose de Carvalho Guerra arrives in Serbia having vacated the post of Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo. A married, father of eight children, Ambassador Guerra speaks Portuguese (spoken and written), French (spoken and written), Russian (still good knowledge), Spanish (spoken) and his native Kikongo language. NOVEMBER

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Human To Human

DR NEBOJŠA STANKOVIĆ, ATTORNEY

Of all areas of investment, investing in people is the riskiest, while the most binding contract is the given word of detailed business plans and analysis. That’s why investors expect a simple and precise presentation of the legal framework, as well as practical experiences in an area where they want to invest on the principle of pro et contra. The more they recognise similarities between the legal regulations in Serbia and those according to which they operate in their countries of origin, or in the countries where they’ve previously invested, and provided the answers to their questions are acceptable to them, most often in the area of labour relations, tax regulations

this sense, I would rather use, although perhaps it’s neither trendy nor fancy, the attribute of “investment” patriot.

■ Speaking in an interview seven years ago about the conditions for investing in the region of Southeast Serbia, you stated that, in terms of the legal and business environment and its improvement, you are “a moderate optimist”. he Stanković law office from If you were to answer that same question today, would you remain in that Niš comprises a team of lawyers and legal trainees with ex“moderate” position, or do you think pertise in all areas of law who circumstances have changed? have advanced professionally by - Tough question. The briefest determination at this juncture would be learning their trade from the firm’s Practising law, according that I am an informed optimist. Serbia principal, Dr Nebojša Stanković, who to our interlocutor, is a deep has made considerable progress, is equally proud of his pedagogical personal relationship between primarily in the regulation of the work as he is of the professional a client and a lawyer based normative framework. Many laws and results he has achieved as a lawyer accompanying regulations have been and expert in the field of domestic on the client’s faith that the and international commercial law lawyer will, in accordance with adopted that impact directly on an improved investment environment and investment. the law, do everything to overall. Changes to legal regulations protect his rights and interests are certainly among the elements that ■ You are recognised, both at home and abroad, not only as the legal have, during the mentioned period, and subsidies for foreign investments, representative of a large number of impacted on improving Serbia’s position the shorter and quicker their route to domestic and foreign companies, but on the World Bank’s Doing Business List. a final decision to invest. Anyone who also as a “promoter” of the region of Still, in everyday life not much has progressed in the application of new regulashows a readiness to invest their own Serbia that gravitates towards Niš as tions, because that requires internal money in order to create new value on an investment destination. What key changes within all of us. The changes that the territory of Serbia receives an honest argument do you use in conversations are particularly difficult but essential are interlocutor who, from the aspect of the with potential investors? in our deep-rooted habits with which we legal profession and a wealth of experi- The main argument is the truth. Investors, as a rule, make a final decision on ence, presents both the advantages and express our attitude towards work and where to invest their money on the basis the risks of the planned investment. In order. After all, the riskiest investment is

T

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in humans. Positive examples exist and it seems to me that they are most evident in the information technology (IT) sector. It is crucial for Serbia to retain its brains, biological resources and potential. I would like to be wrong in saying that one of Serbia’s possible future serious problems will be a lack of workers. ■ Although you are primarily known publicly as a lawyer in the field of the economy and banking, human rights is also one of your areas of expertise. Considering that we opened EU accession negotiation chapters 23 and 24 precisely a year ago, how would you assess Serbia’s progress in these areas? - Viewed from a regional perspective, one influential judgement of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) was the decision in the case of Branimir Đokić vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, which I worked on for more than six years. When it comes to chapters 23 and 24, on the basis of the experience of other countries, these chapters are among the first to be opened and the last to be closed, in which the key chapter is actually 23. I consider that the moment of closing these chapters will also determine the date of Serbia’s full membership in the EU. The essence is that all citizens of Serbia feel tangible improvements from changes in the judiciary, and the most important thing when it comes to the pace is that we are still moving... ■ In your opinion, what impact does the successful conclusion of negotiations and work on negotiating chapters 23 and 24 have on Serbia’s position in the eyes of foreign investors? - The impact is great. Business people, like most of us, want to feel like they’re at home wherever they are around the world. From the perspective of investors, the certainty that you can resolve a situation somewhere else in the same way you did in your own country makes you feel safer. Predictability is both a human

and a business necessity. The closer Serbia’s legal system and economic environment are to the system of the state from which the investor comes, the shorter the time the investor will need to make a final decision on investing in Serbia.

AWARDS ○ The World Bank Group awarded Nebojša Stanković with a certificate of appreciation ○ The World Justice Project awarded Nebojša Stanković with a certificate for his contribution ○ Nebojša Stanković is a recipient of the AAA Golden Certificate of Creditworthiness Rating, Bisnode, based on excellent business results

■ For the last several years you have been involved in the World Justice Project, which saw more than 2,000 legal experts from around the world analyse and evaluate the rule of law in 99 countries worldwide. Based on global movements and changes, primarily political, do you agree with the assessments of some Western experts that the rule of law, and above all human and civil rights, are facing serious challenges? - It is a great honour to be part of the WJP team, but the responsibility is even greater. The selection criteria are strict and are reviewed every year. The role of the evaluator is conditioned on the obligation to rise above everyday personal experiences with subjective elements in order to maximally take on the role of an objective evaluator. Objectivity in providing evaluations and responses defends the authority of the WJP project, but also simultaneously preserves personal and professional integrity. The challenges confronting the idea of the rule of law today don’t essentially differ from those of the conveyors of the rule of law in ancient times. The ancient philosopher’s determination to defend the rule of law from the imposing of brutal and autocratic will can today be compared with the challenge of man to protect his freedom from the imposing of virtual reality and the increasingly visible management of our lives by artificial intelligence precisely with the rule of law. Every time carries its own burden, but the principle of the rule of law has remained and endured. ■ What gives you the most pride? - I am proud to have learned from the best in the legal profession, including my postgraduate studies mentor Tibor Várady, as well the fact that I am able to transfer the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired to my colleagues. I am most proud of my family and that I live by persisting with a system of values in accordance with the motto “Of thy sorrow be not too sad, of thy joy be not too glad”. ■ NOVEMBER

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REGIONAL NEWS

CLEAR WILL “Unlike in the past, when cooperation was impossible, today there is clear will in Western Balkan states to work together”— EDI RAMA, Albanian Prime Minister BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

CROATIA

Footwear From Novi Travnik For World-Famous Brands

Rimac Within TOP 10 Tech Companies In CE

The company “Lubos”, which produces footwear for world famous brands, has opened a new factory in Novi Travnik. Since they have been operating successfully for many years, there is a need for expansion of production capacities. Lubos currently employs 160 workers and, after opening a new factory by the end of the year, there will be a total of 200 employees. Sedzad Milanovic, the minister of economy of the Central Bosnian Canton, said this is the first of three factories to be opened in Novi Travnik in the next few months. Novi Travnik is becoming a more convenient place for investment every day, and municipal authorities do everything to help investors. The mayor of the municipality of Novi Travnik, Refik Lendo, said that the opening of this factory is good for the families of workers, but also for all citizens. Amir Zlotrg, the director of Lubos, said that he hoped that the company would achieve good results in the upcoming period and that it would continue its successful work.

MONTENGRO

Huge Recoverable Natural Gas Reserves Greek oil and gas group Energean has said the two blocks it is exploring in Montenegro have recoverable natural gas reserves of 1.8 trillion cubic feet (aproximately 51 billion cubic metre) The CPR suggests that Montenegro sits in the ‘sweet spot’ of untapped potential in the eastern Adriatic, the CEO of Energean, Mathios Rigas said in a statement. Energean is currently the sole operator, with 100% working interest, of offshore blocks 4218-30 and 4219-26, covering a surface area of 338 sq/km in shallow waters. The blocks were officially awarded in March 2017, following the signing of a concession agreement between the company and the Montenegrin government, the Greek company said. The CPR is part of the first three-year exploration phase, which entails a mandatory work programme including a 3D seismic survey covering the two blocks that is planned to be acquired in 2018, and geological and geophysical (G&G) studies. The total cost of this initial exploration phase is estimated at $5 million (4.2 million euro), Energean said.

Eight companies from Croatia have been ranked in the 2017 Deloitte CE Technology Fast 50, including one in the TOP 10. Rimac Automobili, which develops and produces high-performance electric vehicles, including the Concept One, the world’s first electric supercar, drivetrains and battery systems, were ranked in No.10 spot on the list. According to the report, Rimac grew 1,059% and jumped from 20th to 10th spot this year. In September Asia’s largest battery manufacturer, China-based Camel Group Ltd, entered into a Subscription Agreement with Rimac Automobili worth €30 million which was the single largest foreign direct investment in a Croatian technology company. The company has just opened up over 100 new jobs.

BULGARIA

Gas Deliveries Increased With 9.9% Between January and September 2017, Gazprom increased gas supplies to countries that may become “blue-fuel” customers under the Turkish Stream project in the future, reports Bgnes. According to preliminary data, for the nine months of 2017, supplies of Russian natural gas to Turkey increased by 24% compared to the same period last year. Only in September it grew by 41.2%. “The demand for Russian gas continues to grow in southern Europe and the Balkans. For example, exports to Serbia in January-September rose by 31.7%, for Hungary - by 26.9%, for Bulgaria - by 9.9%, for Greece - by 16.5%. Exports to Greece in September rose by 37.6% compared to the same month of the previous year, “the Russian gas company said in a statement. KOSOVO

Using Modern Business Methods

Kosovo businesses often rely on oral contracts or “handshake” deals to conduct business transactions rather than putting agreements in writing. Such non-written agreements can result in numerous complications. When a dispute arises under a verbal agreement, the parties are unclear on their rights and obligations and are subject to misunderstandings, uncertain contractual terms, and difficulty proving any details of the agreement. When businesses use wellwritten contracts, the terms are unambiguous. If a dispute arises, the parties can refer to the written agreement or present the contract as evidence in judicial or other proceedings.

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In 2011, USAID initiated the Qite n’Letër (Put It on Paper) campaign, educating businesses about the benefits of written contracts over oral agreements. The campaign has targeted businesses from various sectors, women and minority-owned businesses. Operating through public service announcements initially, the campaign expanded into roundtables to instruct businesses about the traps and pitfalls of. To date, over 400 business representatives have participated in roundtables conducted throughout all regions of Kosovo. The program aims to help Kosovo institutions improve the enforcement of civil judgments, dramatically reduce the backlog of court cases, and strengthen the contract and commercial law framework and systems, including those for bankruptcy and mediation.


POWDER KEG “The Balkans must no longer be a powder keg as in the past. All Western Balkan nations must be drivers of growth on par with EU member states.” — ZORAN ZAEV, Macedonian Prime Minister TURKISH AIRLINES

“Istanbul Bosphorus Experience”

The Istanbul Bosphorus Experience is a new program, specially designed by Turkish Airlines for its Business Class passengers who have a transfer time of seven or more hours in Istanbul. Turkey’s national flag carrier, recently awarded with four Skytrax World Airline Awards*, introduces this program to enable its transfer passengers to closely experience the beauty of Istanbul and the Bosphorus, before continuing their trip to their target destination. “We always strive to offer our passengers the best flight experience possible – on board and on the ground. With the addition of the Istanbul Bosphorus Experience, we continue to improve our wide range of activities and services including our worldwide known “Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul”, that earned the top spot in the category “World’s Best Business Class Lounge” within the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2017, or our innovative Miniport service, and etc.” said Ahmet Olmuştur, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Turkish Airlines.

SEE

Unemployment And Corruption Remain Pressing Issues Unemployment and corruption remain pressing issues for the countries of Southeast Europe (SEE), despite an upturn in their economic performance, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), an organisation fostering partnership in the Balkans and their Euro-Atlantic integration, has concluded. Unemployment continues to be a major concern, while the perception of traditional democratic institutions, for reasons both complex and manifold, leaves much to be desired in terms of both performance and public confidence, RCC said upon the release of the Balkan Barometer 2017 survey. In response to the survey’s question, “How many people in your family who are able to work are unemployed?”, 29% of all interviewees said one person, 16% said two people, while 8% said 3 or more people. The barometer also highlights a growing anxiety over corruption, as 32% of the interviewees rated corruption as one of the key problems for the region in 2017, compared to 27% in 2016 and to 15% in 2015. “An upturn in economic performance by the region’s economies has brought about an increasingly optimistic outlook for the future that needs to be solidified through decisive government action,” RCC secretary general, Goran Svilanovic, said. Despite notional support for European integration there continues to be widespread scepticism about the region’s short to medium term accession prospects, with 23% of respondents saying they believe EU membership will never happen, the barometer also showed. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, Bulgaria and Romania followed in 2007 and Croatia entered the bloc in 2013. Serbia and Montenegro have opened accession talks and Macedonia has been granted candidate status. The survey also found that business people continue to struggle with what they see as complex taxation and an unfriendly business environment with an unpredictable legal system, Vladimir Gligorov, GfK’s expert consultant for the barometer and researcher at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, said. Some 62% of business people in the region perceive it very hard or hard to start a private business in their place of living, while more than half of them believe that upgrading roads would have the most positive effect on their business. “While 56% of respondents agree that the government takes note of their needs, but only to a limited extent, it is positive to record the decline in the number of respondents who feel ignored by the authorities down to 30% from 38% in 2015,” Gligorov said. The Balkan Barometer is one of the annual monitoring tools used to track progress in the implementation of RCC’s SEE 2020 Strategy when it comes to growth, employment and competitiveness in the region. Published for the first time in 2015, it surveys 8,000 citizens and 1,600 businesses in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, on a wide range of issues dealing with the political, socio-economic, business and investment climate, infrastructure, rule of law and other developments in the region. Source: SeeNews

ROMANIA

Tender For Bucharest District 1’s Magazine Large media groups such as Ringier Romania and Burda have taken part in the tender. Other bidders include the local subsidiary of Chelgate LTD UK and Romprint Fusion, reports local Profit.ro. The Bucharest District 1’s City Hall wants to publish a magazine, which would be distributed for free to people and companies in the area. It will have a print run of 133,000 copies. The winner needs to publish it at least once a quarter and maximum once a month. The magazine will have 36 pages and will inform citizens about the City Hall’s activity. Bucharest’s District 1 spends €2.7 million for its magazine.

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CORPORATE VUK RADOVIĆ, GENERAL MANAGER AT EKO SERBIA

Creators Of Trends Photo: Igor Pavićević

EKO Serbia, which is part of Hellenic Petroleum, is this year celebrating 15 years of doing business in Serbia. The growth can be primarily characterised as sustainable development, and that’s also how EKO Serbia wants to continue. Innovation, dedication, teamwork, steps forward in quality of services and products are the characteristics of the company and the people the company employed from the very beginning

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ver since its incorporation in the year 2002, the company has been led by a vision to be the customer’s number one choice and to make EKO petrol stations available to as many drivers as possible. Since than company was growing and changing as a result of new trends, market requirements, the advancement of technology and the ambitions of the company and the Hellenic Petroleum Group, to which EKO Serbia belongs and which is the regional leader in the energy sector.

such as high-octane gasoline, and we continued with the innovative product Diesel avio fuel - Euro diesel, which has been purified with filters used in aviation industry, while there is also a free service for checking key safety points for cars - Pit Stop. Our goals are aimed towards providing drivers with a place where they can find energy for cars, regardless of whether they are powered by fossil fuels, TNG, CNG or electricity, while at the same time we consider that today’s filling stations are also places that offer many additional services.

■ When you launched operations in 2002, your goal was to become available with a network throughout the whole of Serbia. Considering that you have practically achieved that, what goal have you now set yourself for the period ahead? - If you compare the appearance and contents of filling stations 15 years ago and today, you will easily notice the challenges we face today in order to respond to new trends. We were the first to offer Serbian drivers differentiated fuels with enhanced characteristics,

■ There is already a stereotypical opinion that Serbia’s citizens have available lower quality fuels than the inhabitants of EU countries. As a member of Hellenic Petroleum, the largest group in this part of Europe, do you have balanced and unified quality within the entire group, regardless of the country in which it is positioned? - Quality and safety have always been our priorities. Regardless of the source of supply, regardless of whether the fuel is produced in our refineries, delivered from imports or domestic production,

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the consumer must receive the quality they have paid for, in the amount they have sought. That’s why I mention security – thinking not only about the safety of our people at work, but rather about security in supplying the energy market. It is important for us that our users feel secure and that they will safely reach their destination. I would also like to mention that all types of unleaded and diesel fuels that we sell are additionally enriched with the latest additives, which further improve the performance characteristics by influencing the efficiency and performance of engines. We believe also that petrol station appearance and service are important in terms of the impression they leave on a customer, which is also significant and can create an opinion on quality in general. ■ It is less known that Eko Serbia, in addition to its basic business, also deals with what we can call “educational and advisory work”. Your website offers reading material in the form of plenty of useful advice, from tips on how to change tyres to health advice. Why do you deal with these


extra jobs, which don’t generate any notable revenue? - Part of the DNA of our company in Serbia, and primarily that of the Hellenic Petroleum Group, is corporate social responsibility. Many different projects can be in the focus of that, related to socially vulnerable groups, education, the renewal of important institutions, traffic safety etc. However, we are constantly resolved to show gratitude for the community in which we work by supporting local initiatives. We have just sent six students from Serbia to take part in postgraduate studies in Greece, while the occasion of the company’s anniversary saw a protocol agreement signed on a milliondinar donation to the Centre for Children’s Resorts. We are here to stay and develop together, working on improving our society. ■ Eko Serbia also generally implements programmes for students and practical work placements. There are few companies involved in this type of challenge. What effect does this training have on the company and students respectively? - If you want a company to advance, it must have young people with new ideas and initiatives, and we must help young people gain experience and educate themselves, while providing them with opportunities to prove themselves. In the coming years, Hellenic Petroleum will support over 50 young people who will embark on postgraduate studies in Crete and Piraeus in the area of oil engineering and economics and low in energy sector. The best of them will also get an opportunity to gain employment. Simultaneously, at the local level, as part of our cooperation with the University of

Belgrade, students who can participate in practical placements in different company departments are always welcome at our company. Some of them have already become part of the EKO Serbia team. Young people bring new energy and represent a driving force, which, in synergy with the knowledge and experience of their older colleagues, guarantees success.

I am very proud that EKO creates trends on this market and simultaneously helps the community in which it operates ■ When you arrived 15 years ago, Serbia had just entered transition following the changes of the year 2000. If you could draw an analogy, what has changed in the context of your business in Serbia during the past 15 years? - In the area of our business alone, we can recall derivatives that are no longer used and are not sold on our market, such as D2 diesel and leaded petrol. We could spend a long time talking about the harmful effects of these products on the environment and human health. And today we are talking about differentiated fuels with specially improved features,

Euro 5 standards, with extra additives that secure a top performance. Likewise, parallels can also be drawn in the area of consumers, who then drove cars that consumed a lot more fuel, while today we are talking about better energy efficiency engines that have much lower consumption. In the communications domain, technology has enabled us to communicate faster and easier, introduce new higher standards to operational control, but also to be in direct contact with consumers through, for example, social networks or special company programmes like our ‘Smile’ Club, which, apart from rewarding our customers for their loyalty, also enables us to maintain constant communication with them. I would also further emphasise that consumer services and training people are increasingly in our focus. ■ In your opinion, how “fast” is Serbia when it comes to adapting to European standards in the energy sector? - When it comes to regulations that relate to quality standards for petroleum products used as motor fuels, we can say that we have been fully harmonized with European standards for some time. On the other hand, in certain regulations related to trading conditions, the defined conditions may be too harsh for market participants, as they impose additional costs and reduce competitiveness somewhat. However, it can be said that, in terms of legislation, Serbia is following and moving closer to Europe, and in this field one can sense determination to achieve the kind of market stability and regulation that attracts new investments. ■ NOVEMBER

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CORPORATE VLADICA STANKOVIĆ, DIRECTOR AT GRUNER SERBIAN D.O.O. (LTD.), VLASOTINCE

German Ingenuity And Domestic Dedication “Our employees are our greatest value, and Gruner in Serbia would not be this successful without their energy and commitment,” says Vladica Stanković, director at GRUNER SERBIAN D.O.O., Vlasotince, speaking to CorD

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he news that German company Gruner opened a new production facility on 18th October, in which it invested 5.8 million euros, is only a continuation of this company’s successful operation in Vlasotince, which started way back in 2007. It was then that Gruner made two moves: the first related to its place of business: instead of a “big” urban centre, the choice fell to Vlasotince; the second move was for Gruner to position itself as a significant player in the recent economic history of Serbia, given that it is the first company to launch automotive production in this area for a long time. Today GRUNER Serbian d.o.o. has 480 employees in Serbia alone and a production facility covering 7,000m2. “Vlasotince is, among other things, our location for automotive products, while the total investment amounts to 11 million euros,” says Stanković, speaking to CorD. - Ten years ago, we started working in one rented hall and with just a dozen workers. That year we exported a single product, designed for smart meters on the U.S. market, and we only produced 50,000 units. Today we export more than 30 different products in a total of 7.3 million units. ■ GRUNER has existed and operated in Germany for over 60 years. In your 38 |

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opinion, what influenced this company to recognise a small plant in Vlasotince as having the potential to be a serious business? - In my opinion, our owners primarily recognised the potential of our people. When I say this, I mean our experts, engineers and other highly qualified people. And it’s not just about our “expertise” – I think they also recognised “good business energy” in us, as well as the determination with which we convinced them to constantly invest and expand operations. Thus, from a rented hall, we arrived at three serious production plants. The first two house production capacities for the automotive industry, while the third hall is used for the production of plastic and metal parts that are incorporated into our final products, as well as a tool

The management of our parent company in Germany provides us with support in every sense, and is also open to our ideas and projects shop for maintaining and producing new tools. I would like to emphasise that the buyers of our products are DaimlerMercedes, Renault, Peugeot, Porsche and many other top-class auto brands. Along with expressing gratitude towards the management of our parent company, who provided us with support in every sense, I would also like to thank my colleagues, production manager Igor Rajković and quality manager Predrag Mladenović, for the 10 years of work and effort that they’ve invested to date.

■ With a view to the German model, Serbia is trying to apply its own model of dual education. And Gruner is already involved in that process. What tangible benefits do you gain from this type of education as an employer? - Within the framework of the new plant we’ve also opened a training workshop for pupils studying to be industrial mechanics. Based on an agreement with the school and the local self-government, and with the great support of GIZ (the German Organisation for International Cooperation), Gruner has, along with five other companies in Vlasotince, become part of the dual education system. The local and regional needs of the economy were analysed, the subject was designed and formed in the school, and thus we started. Pupils from the second and third year of secondary school spend two and three days a week training at the factory under expert supervision. They are also stimulated with monetary compensation, which is actually a kind of scholarship. This is a very good and successful system, and the example of Germany proves that in many ways. At the same time, we received qualified staff that respond to the needs of the economy, while young people get the chance to gain employment immediately after finishing school, and in their own town. It is very important to listen to the needs of businesspeople and to educate young people to be able to start working immediately after finishing school. This method of cooperation between the economy, education and the state is the best stock for the future. ■


WORLD NEWS

NEW MARKETS

CHINA

“No doubt that this situation will be changing in the coming decade, which will lead to the formation of new markets, the geography and structure of energy demand will primarily shift to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region,”— VLADIMIR PUTIN, President of Russia FRANCE

Renault To Make Half Of Its Cars Electric Or Hybrid

Alibaba Regains Top Online Vendor Title Alibaba surpassed its U.S. counterpart Amazon as the world’s biggest e-commerce company as the Hangzhou-based company reached the threshold of US$470 billion in market value. Analysts said Alibaba regained its title as the world’s biggest e-commerce company after over two years thanks to its incredible performance this year. As one of the top performers on the New York Stock Exchange, Alibaba has gained over 100 percent since January, while Amazon rose nearly 30 percent. The Chinese company’s stock soared 12 per cent in the past two months after it announced better-than-expected quarterly earnings in August. Alibaba’s net profit jumped 96 per cent to more than US$2.1 billion year on year in the first fiscal quarter ending June, beating market expectations.

French carmaker Renault has announced plans to make half of its models electric or hybrid by 2022 and to invest heavily in “robo-vehicles” with increasing degrees of autonomy.

LUFTHANSA

Lufthansa To Buy Over Half Of Air Berlin’s Jets Years of struggle for Germany’s second-ranked airline Air Berlin appeared on their final stretch, as Lufthansa announced plans to buy more than half the bankrupt carrier’s planes. The deal has sparked controversy in the European aviation sector, with the German government facing accusations it helped steer the process under a plan to build the Frankfurt-based carrier into an all-conquering juggernaut. Lufthansa will take over Air Berlin’s Austrian subsidiary Niki, German subsidiary LGW and 20 further aircraft, guaranteeing all jobs at the two smaller firms, Air Berlin said in a statement. The deal includes 81 of Air Berlin’s 144 aircraft and 3,000 of its 8,500 staff, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said in Berlin, hailing it as a “great day” for his company.

A strategic plan aims to boost Renault annual revenues to €70 billion by 2022 from €51 billion last year, in part through an effort to double sales outside its traditional markets in Europe – especially Russia and China. The plans reflect the vision laid out in September by the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance, the world’s No. 1 carmaker by sales. Many of Renault’s new aims depend on saving money through sharing platforms and development with Nissan and Mitsubishi. CEO Carlos Ghosn said Renault is aiming to sell more than 5 million vehicles annually by 2022 from 3.2 last year.

JAPAN

INDIA

Tsubame-Sanjo Factories Win Worldwide Attention

Tata Group To Sell Telecom Business

Small factories in Niigata Prefecture, Japan are attracting attention from around the world for the original technologies they utilise. Hinoura Hamano factoy was founded in 1905, and initially focused on making Japanese hatchets. After attending the 2006 Ambiente trade fair in Frankfurt, however, it began focusing on kitchen knives. At present, about 80 percent of kitchen knives produced at the factory are for the European and North American markets. Many foreigners visit the factory to buy its products. About 10 companies from the Tsubame-Sanjo area attended the world’s largest design fair in Milan in 2014 and another trade fair held in Taiwan this year, to strengthen the region’s brand power. There are 12 factories in the area where visitors can view activities on any day. The factories have an adjoining tax-free shop. A company official said, “We want visitors to know our products’ real value by looking around our factory.” The local government plans to create more opportunities to exhibit products such as kitchen knives abroad ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Ending a 20-year-old saga of poor decisions and mounting losses, Tata Teleservices on Thursday said it will merge its consumer mobile businesses with Bharti Airtel in a cashless deal. The deal consolidates Airtel’s standing as the TATA SONS CHAIRMAN country’s No. 1 operaN. CHANDRASEKARAN tor in terms of revenue market share even if the Vodafone-Idea merger were to go through. It also gives Airtel access to valuable spectrum to thwart the latest challenge in 4G services from Reliance Jio. Under the deal, Airtel will get access to 178 MHz of additional spectrum and 40 million subscribers. Airtel is not paying anything to Tata Tele other than absorbing a substantial number of the 5,000 employees and paying part of the spectrum liability that the latter owes to the Department of Telecom. NOVEMBER

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CORPORATE MILOŠ VUJNOVIĆ, Ph.D., PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF JUBMES BANKA AD (JSC) BEOGRAD

Negative Trends Halted Activities carried out since the beginning of 2016 have brought a halt to unfavourable trends and changed the Bank’s financial situation, leading to the diversification and growth of the portfolio of commercial placements with clients and the deposits of private individuals to the highest ever level

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hile “Yugonostalgics” associate the name of JUBMES banka with some “good old times”, for today’s clients the name of this bank means reliability and efficiency. In this interview for CorD, JUBMES CEO Miloš Vujnović, Ph.D., responds extremely directly to the first question about serious banking competition as a “danger”. - Considering our specific business concept, a highly competitive financial market is not necessarily a limiting factor for the Bank’s future prospects. Determined as we are to continue our tradition as an efficient bank, a large market share does not represent the primary business goal, but rather serving a market segment that primarily values commitment and the quality of services provided, whether those clients are corporate or private individuals. We are a small bank, which is why every client is in our focus, with an emphasis on fast and efficient services complemented by support in the form of providing advisory services. On the other hand, contemporary banking trends, such as digitalisation and online services, provides a chance for banks without a branch network, like ours, to make their products available to a larger number of potential clients. 40 |

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■ When it comes to regulations in Serbia, as well as their harmonisation with those of the European Union, to what extent do changes in banking legislation move towards easing banking sector operations? - The regulations governing banks operations are becoming more complex and demanding year after year, primarily in the reporting segment. As such solutions are primarily a result of harmonisation with the regulations governing the operations of banks within the EU, instead of relaxing them, we can probably expect movement from the concept of presenting traditional reports towards delivering complex databases from which central regulators will be able to process data themselves. Considering that efficiency

Determined as we are to continue our tradition as an efficient bank, a large market share does not represent the primary business goal, but rather serving a market segment that primarily values commitment and the quality of services provided in the process of collecting receivables is extremely important to banks, the regulatory changes in this domain in recent years represent a significant step forward and form the basis for reducing the burden of non-performing exposures on banks’ balance sheets. This is reflected through an eased restructuring process, sales, but also write-offs

of non-performing exposures with tax treatment, which has been limiting factor in the previous period. ■ JUBMES banka has been operating for almost four decades. Which period in the operations of JUBMES represents the most challenging period for you as a banker? - For almost a decade and a half, which is how long I have been employed with the Bank, changes like the continuous modernisation of operations have been driven by market conditions, but also partly by the specific position and inheritance of the Bank from the period of the export credit agency. After many years of stable operations, during 2013-2015 period, extremly unfavourable trends were present in the Bank. These trends were primarily reflected in a decreased volume of placements with clients and an NPL rate significantly above the banking sector average. The growth of NPLs and the Bank’s extremely high losses in this period resaulted in a significant reduction of Bank’s capital. All this is the reason why the beginning of 2016 was the most challenging period for the Bank. Activities undertaken to address unfavourable trends and to turn the financial situation in which the bank found itself around, were implemented successfully and resulted in the diversification and growth of the portfolio of commercial placements with clients and deposits of individuals to the highest level historically, with the level of NPLs falling below the market average – and all of that while maintaining the liquidity and capital adequacy of the bank at the top of the banking sector. ■


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Business Dialogue - CorD Magazine No. 157