Stay Healthy And Positive Serbia can count on Greece’s strong partnership support in the European integration process and on the implementation of all necessary reforms that contribute to the overall development of the country.
reece tops the list of European countries when it comes to the number of people who’ve been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. This is both the result of the commitment of the Greek leadership and health authorities, for the sake of the well-being of its citizen, as well as the contribution of Greece to the fight against the pandemic and the gradual return to normal life and economic activities in the greater community. It was Greece’s idea to introduce a so-called “covid passport” and at present the EU has, at least partially, accepted it. People’s movements have been restricted for a long time now, and it is up to us to find safe but efficient ways to gradually restore our way of life as it used to be. Indeed, that is also of tremendous importance to our economies, especially those with large service sectors. The vaccination process is also underway in Serbia, as it is in Greece. We are all looking forward to progress on talks between the Greek and Serbian tourism ministers regarding the essential conditions required to open two countries’ borders to citizens during the summer season. Indeed, these talks represent one more
example of good bilateral relations between the two countries, which are based on sound foundations and mutual respect. Let us remind readers that the two countries signed the Declaration on the Strategic Partner-
There are high hopes that a sustainable solution enabling people to travel freely will allow Greece to open its borders to tourists, while maintaining all necessary measures to keep both Greek tourism workers and visitors safe and healthy ship in December 2019, which further enriched our mutual cooperation. Although COVID-19 altered all diplomatic activities to a certain extent, both sides are looking forward to opportunities to work further on the partnership. With this in mind, it is important to emphasise that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reiterated that Greece will remain committed to its position not to recognise the
independence of Kosovo. Greece also remains true in supporting Serbia’s EU accession process and is looking forward to Serbia joining the EU once all criteria have been fulfilled. As has been repeated on numerous occasions, Serbia can count on Greece’s strong partnership support in the European integration process and on the implementation of all necessary reforms that contribute to the overall development of the country. Indeed, such advancements would also boost bilateral trade and increase investment opportunities for Greek investors who believe that, once such progress is achieved, Serbia will be one of the region’s most attractive destinations for investments. This would also have a positive impact on economic relations. As we already know, there is significant room for improvement in the sectors of agriculture, food and beverages, building materials, energy, and information and communication technologies. Today, things may not seem like they are looking up overnight, but we have to maintain our optimism and work hard to overcome the challenges we’re facing, stay healthy, and look forward to a summer that might bring us some much wanted relief.
STYLIANOS ZAKOF, PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF SERBIA
We Can Do Better & More Quicker harmonisation with EU regulations, judicial reform, and the simplifying of procedures for obtaining various business permits, import and export procedures, would make Serbia one of the region's most desirable countries for investment
he COVID-19 pandemic has put the world’s economy to the toughest test, and we are all handling the consequences of the difficult health situation in which we find ourselves. The business world is facing higher costs due to reduced operating revenues and falling demand for goods and services, but also hampered supply chains, including both domestic and foreign markets. We asked Stylianos Zakof, President of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, how Greek companies are coping with these troubles and how Greek-Serbian economic cooperation is weathering the challenges under these conditions.
How would you assess the operations of your member companies and how much of an impact did the measures of the Government of Serbia have on their business operations during the pandemic? - When we are talking about Greek companies operating in Serbia, the service sector, and the hospitality and hotel industry in particular, have suffered the worst blow. The measures that were adopted by the government during the course of last year proved to be extremely useful and most of our members utilised this type of assistance. The measures are rightly aimed at preserving jobs and increasing the liquidity of companies, and it is very positive that the state is continuing its economic measures to support the economy. On the other hand, uncertainty is the biggest challenge for many sectors at the global level, which is why it will be essential to modernise and introduce new ways of working, an accelerated digital transformation process, as well as the good harmonising of assets and liabilities. In this sense, it will be very important to have coordinated cooperation between the private and state sectors at all levels. Your association was very active in the dialogue with the Government of Serbia around the introduction of the first package of measures for the economy. How important is cooperation between business associations and the government when it comes to creating an economic environment in which it is possible to adapt business operations during a pandemic? - I must express my satisfaction with the cooperation we have had to date with the representatives of Serbian institutions, because they have always shown a readiness to provide us with answers to questions that concern the operations of our members, as well as to support us in organising of various business gatherings. During March last year, bilateral foreign
We are very glad that Greek companies have once again displayed their socially responsible awareness and solidarity with Serbia in the struggle against COVID-19
Serbian institutions have always shown a readiness to provide us with answers to questions that concern the operations of our members
For both the government and the private sector, it is extremely important for there to be open dialogue and mutual support that will stimulate the business environment during this uncertain time
chambers of commerce and organisations, including the Hellenic Business Association, sent a joint open request to the Ministry of Economy to implement additional measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, which the Serbian government supported. Business associations represent the voice of the private sector, which is an important stakeholder in economic growth and employment. For both the government and the private sector, it is extremely important for there to be open dialogue and mutual support that will stimulate the business environment during this uncertain time. The economy will have to adapt its operations to new trends, because we are witnessing a time in which current economic recovery policies will shape the new economic and social system. What questions are you asked most often by members? What are the biggest challenges they’re facing in their work today? - The Greek business community in Serbia is well developed and we strive to selflessly support each other. Most of our existing members, but also future ones, seek help with information on entrepreneurship in the country and clarifications regarding bureaucracy. During the previous year and this one, we have received a large number of inquiries related to border crossing procedures as a result of the pandemic, which is why we regularly inform our members about all newly adopted measures and regulations of both the Serbian and Greek governments. The challenges we continue to face are problems that arise on the path to European integration for any country in the region, including Serbia. Long-term harmonisation with EU regulations, judicial reform, and the simplifying of procedures for obtaining various business permits, as well as import and export procedures, are definitely the biggest challenges not only for Greek companies, but also for other foreign companies that would like to expand their activities to the Serbian market. Solving these
In the previous period we organised a series of webinars on topics related to ways of doing business during the pandemic, including topics linked to accounting, legal and customs issues, marketing and HR problems would inevitably make Serbia one of the region’s most desirable countries for investment. Under conditions of working online from home, how possible was it for the HBA to respond to the needs of members and what were the most important activities that you organised during the last year? - Like all other stakeholders in the Serbian business community, the Hellenic Business Association has also adapted to the new business conditions dictated by the pandemic. Video conferencing and virtual events have never been more important to business than they are now. In that sense, we organised a series of webinars on topics related to ways of doing business during the pandemic,
including topics linked to accounting, legal and customs issues, as well as topics in the fields of marketing and HR. Among the significant activities carried out prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, I would single out the meetings with Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Secretary General for International Economic Affairs at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gregoris Dimitriadis, at which we discussed current issues related to bilateral economic and trade relations between Greece and Serbia, communications between Greek businessmen abroad and the Greek Ministry of Finance, as well as problems faced by Greek companies operating in Serbia. Among the traditional events, I would single out the Cutting of Vasilopita and the Greek Weekend on Kopaonik.
According to your assessment, how did this situation impact on the trade exchange between Serbia and Greece, and in which sectors do you see the possibility to improve that exchange? - Total Greek direct investment in Serbia is estimated at around 1.5 billion euros, while direct and indirect investments made over the past 15 years have exceeded 2.5 billion euros. Despite the fact that Greek companies are interested in investing in Serbia, and the good relations nurtured by the two countries, Serbia and Greece have yet to explore the possibilities of economic exchange in many sectors. In that sense, the existing pandemic has not had a significant impact on foreign trade, which has modest results, despite its potential. The potential that would contribute to growth is reflected in sectors like agriculture, food and beverages, construction materials, energy and information and communication technologies etc.
of promoting those companies. Last year’s edition promoted support for doing business in Serbia and the strengthening of relations between countries endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The HBA last year joined forces with two other European chambers and prepared a joint publication.
Last October you once again organised the now traditional break intended for members
Serbia and Greece have yet to explore the possibilities of economic exchange in many sectors, such as agriculture, food and beverages, construction materials, energy, information and communication technologies etc. of the Greek community in Serbia and their families to get acquainted and interconnect. How valuable are such events to “recharge the batteries“ and strengthen links between members? - The Greek family weekend on Kopaonik has become a traditional event that was organised for the fifth consecutive year in a row in cooperation with our member company, Hotel Junior on Kopaonik. Informal meetings between representatives of Greek companies are particularly important for our association. These kinds of events strengthen mutual relations between representatives of the Greek business community, and thus also contribute to the deepening of business cooperation. Specifically, this original three-day break to meet and develop interconnectivity between members and their families was accompanied by relaxation, entertainment, several family
sports, and live Greek music. This event receives positive comments from our members every year and attracts an ever-increasing number of participants. During 2020 you also published a new edition of the “Member to Member” publication. What is the aim of this publication and how does it connect members of different business associations? - The publication “Member to Member”, which the Hellenic Business Association has already been publishing for years, is intended to promote the products and services of member companies to the wider business community and contains special offers and discounts for companies in various sectors. It is conceived in such a way as to provide opportunities for interaction and support between companies, as well as to represent an effective means
How have HBA member companies contributed to protecting the health and safety of their employees and Serbia’s citizenry? - Corporate social responsibility has become an integral part of today’s business operations, given that companies are expected to take care of employees, clients, and the community, but also the environment. This fact reflects the importance of the business sector in today’s society, but also the responsibility that arises from that importance. In the spirit of a tradition that dates back centuries, Greece and Serbia have always shown mutual solidarity. We are very glad that Greek companies have once again displayed their socially responsible awareness and solidarity with Serbia in the struggle against COVID-19, not only as they would towards any host country, but also as a traditional friend and business partner. In accordance with this trend, HBA members donated basic funds for the work of the Serbian healthcare system, while at the same time helping local communities with financial and material contributions. What are your plans for the remainder of 2021? - Considering the uncertainty of implementing public gatherings, the Hellenic Business Association will continue to be a socially responsible member of the community and in that sense, we are planning to organise online activities. New legal and accounting factors, as well as training in various sectors, can be presented to the employees of member companies in a very correct way, in the webinar format. We are also planning to continue our dialogue with state institutions, with the aim of informing our members about current topics regarding the Serbian economy. Additionally, during the course of this year, we plan to connect more actively with other Greek associations and chambers operating in the Balkans, but also to continue cooperating with other European chambers operating in Serbia.
“IT’S NOT THAT I’M SO SMART, IT’S JUST THAT I STAY WITH PROBLEMS LONGER” ~ ALBERT EINSTEIN
STYLIANOS TSOKTOURIDIS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ALUMIL YU INDUSTRY A.D.
Our Investment Plans Support Market Demands As the largest group for the production of aluminium extrusions in Southeast Europe, Alumil remains determined to invest more in Serbia and continue supporting the local economy and the development of the domestic industrial sector
e have acquired land and plan to start the construction of a new industrial building. This investment plan will double our capacity and that translates to at least 60 to 100 direct job positions - says Alumil Yu Industry MD Stylianos Tsoktouridis in this interview
The Serbian construction sector has been experiencing a major expansion. Is this trend set to continue and what does it mean for Alumil? - We are experiencing continuous growth in the value of construction projects in Serbia that started in 2019, when the value of the projects increased by 35% compared to 2018, and that continued in 2020. Specifically, according to the statistical office, GDP from construction in Serbia increased to 82,934 million dinars in the fourth quarter of 2020, from 66,827.20 million dinars in the third quarter of 2020. In the real estate market, despite ever-increasing prices, sales are growing and most buyers are looking to buy apartments in new buildings. Belgrade has become one of the most attractive locations in Europe to invest in the construction sector, according to reports by Radio Television Serbia (RTS). According to other media reports, there are 55,000 active construction sites in Serbia, four times as many as there were in 2015. The World Bank has ranked Serbia among the top 10 countries in terms of the speed of issuing of building permits in the last five years.
This information is an indicator of a dynamically growing and healthy market, which Alumil has focused its efforts on supporting better by further improving its services, in terms of local just-in-time production and delivery, technical and engineering support and, most importantly, through its product portfolio, in order to meet
The value of projects in Serbia increased by 35% in 2019 compared to 2018, and that continued in 2020 and even exceed the expectations of architects, investors and construction companies. The market is becoming increasingly demanding, while competition is ever stronger. How do you overcome the challenges? - Alumil is dedicated to providing solutions for our esteemed customers, on time and at competitive costs, by continuously investing in production and distribution facilities in Serbia, inventories of products ready for delivery, trained and expert personnel, marketing activities and our showroom. The Serbian market is changing rapidly and new demands are born every day. Modern buildings require the design and construction of fenestration systems with high standards. By always focusing on the specifications and requirements of the
most advanced markets worldwide, Alumil has created a product portfolio that incorporates innovative products and responds perfectly to modern building needs. The needs of our customers are quite broad, and so is our product portfolio. Each of our products was designed with one thing in mind: how to provide the best possible solution and maximise the value for our customers. How far have you progressed on the implementation of your investment plan? Does this also mean new jobs? - Although our investment programme has slowed down due to the COVID-19 situation, we remain determined to invest more in Serbia and continue supporting the local economy and the development of the domestic industrial sector. As of today, we have acquired land and plan to start the construction of a new industrial building. According to the updated plan, provided the crisis caused by the pandemic abates, the installation of the new extrusion line should be completed within the next two years. There is a third phase to our investment plan, to be implemented at a later stage, that includes the installation of an anodising line in a building that was already completed during the previous year. Of course, this investment plan will double our capacity and that translates to at least 60 to 100 direct job positions, many of which require highly educated, specially trained personnel.
PETROS GEMINTZIS, DIRECTOR, HELLENIC SUGAR
Setting The Bar Even Higher
Low sugar prices on our domestic market also hit the industry, but Hellenic Sugar in Serbia survived those extremely difficult times and, for the second consecutive year, is increasing its production and looking forward to reaching full capacity in 2022 and 2023
e are now setting the bar even higher, as the rebalance of sugar production in the EU has led to Serbia becoming the biggest sugar producer in the whole of Southeast Europe, with significant exports to the region, explains Hellenic Sugar Director Petro Gemintzis in this interview. Since 2017, when the EU abolished its sugar quotas, there has been overproduction, falling prices and the closure of many sugar mills. What has changed on the market in the meantime? - The EU’s policy of abolishing quotas for sugar production among member states caused turbulence on the European markets, both inside and outside the Union, particularly in Serbia. Production of sugar in Serbia has been declining since 2017, with prices falling drastically, by up to 50%, the area under beets is decreasing, while sugar beet prices remain high. Until 2017, sugar beet was cultivated on an area of about 60,000 hectares, but that area has decreased to below 40,000ha in the last two years. Higher production and lower sugar prices in the EU have also led to the reduction of our exports to both EU and CEFTA countries, due to strong competition and dumping prices. Low sugar prices on our domestic market also hit the industry. In order for the sugar industry to recover, the area under sugar beets needs
to increase to at least 50,000ha, while sugar prices need to recover significantly to previous levels, primarily on the domestic market. Hellenic Sugar in Serbia has survived these extremely difficult times. Can you finally be satisfied with the results recorded by Crvenka? And what is happening with the sugar mill in Žabalj? - The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the global economy, and we
We see an opportunity to activate our mill in Žabalj in 2022, to invest more, modernise and deal with a lot of challenges are fortunate that the “Crvenka” sugar mill was able to contribute during these challenging times. Not only have we achieved higher production of sugar, but also of its by-products – molasses and beet pulp – from which yeast and alcohol are produced. We were therefore able to respond to the sudden spike in demand for alcohol sanitizers at the right time, which again underlined the importance of the sugar industry. We are aware of the negative effects that lower sugar prices have had on the global market and
that many mills in Europe have closed, including in neighbouring Croatia. However, we see an opportunity to activate our mill in Žabalj in 2022, to invest more, modernise and deal with a lot of challenges, especially environmental ones. We will respond to those challenges with new investments in saving water and energy, and making our production more eco-friendly. Serbia has huge potential when it comes to agricultural production and the processing of agricultural products. Is this our biggest trump card and the area of the economy in which the most needs to be invested? - World market prices for major food commodities like grains and vegetable oils rose significantly during the last year, which is a solid indicator of the importance of agricultural markets worldwide. Therefore, Serbia should utilise its potential and invest more in agriculture, and we are willing to help in achieving that. We clearly see this opportunity and that’s why Hellenic Sugar has invested in production facilities in Serbia. We are now setting the bar even higher, as the rebalance of sugar production in the EU has led to Serbia becoming the biggest sugar producer in the whole of Southeast Europe, with significant exports to the region. A challenge still lies ahead, since our current production remains beneath the level of demand and we are determined to invest further in this direction.
Two Centuries Since A Struggle For Independence Began
The celebration commemorating the 200th anniversary of the launch of the struggle for Greece's liberation was marked by a major military parade that citizens watched on television. Marching through the streets of an empty city were troops from land, air and naval forces, members of the police, fire service and coast guard, as well as a cavalry unit
reedom or death! - was the slogan of the uprising against Ottoman rule that Greece had been under for almost 400 years, ever since the Ottoman Turks attacked and took the then capital of Constantinople. Isolated uprisings in 1821 escalated into a war of all-encompassing proportions that culminated in the establishing of the independent Kingdom of Greece in 1832.
The 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek struggle for independence was marked on Thursday, 25th March 2021. Greeks traditionally celebrate this date as the turning point in the history of the modern Greek state and the beginning of a new era for Europe. Over the course of these two centuries of fighting for its right to be independent, the Greek nation has come a long way. It has never shied away from international struggles to
defend freedom and human values, including its participation in both world wars. Greece thus became a solid pillar of democracy and stability in the Balkans and the wider Mediterranean region, a trusted ally and dedicated member of the European Union over the past 40 years , which contributes actively to promoting the EU’s core values and priorities. MILITARY PARADE THROUGH THE DESERTED STREETS OF ATHENS The celebration of the 200th anniversary of the launch of the struggle for Greece’s liberation from Ottoman rule was held in Athens. However, the pandemic led to the cancellation of everything but the military parade, which citizens watched on television. The military parade was held without people, without children, without fluttering flags, applause and enthusiastic sighs. Parading through the city of an empty city were a cavalry unit, troops of ground, air and naval forces, and members of the police, fire service and coast guard. Apart from military planes flying over the Acropolis, there were also members of the Evzones unit, an historical elite unit in the uniforms of Greek soldiers who fought against the Turks during Greece’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire and during the war for independence. And everything had been conceived and planned to unfold very differently ... There were dreams of village celebrations, school parades and celebrations attended by numerous guests from all over the country and around the world. There were dreams of a celebration marked by pride, with plenty of joy and optimism for the future. But the global pandemic disrupted everything. PRINCE CHARLES DIDN’T MISS THE CELEBRATION It was initially decided to reduce celebrations to the military parade alone, but permission was subsequently given for the holding of several appropriate events, including a performance at Agia Lavra, one of the oldest Greek monasteries. There actors dressed in the garb of Greek revolutionaries repeated the legendary oath “Freedom or Death!”. This was the slogan of the uprising against Ottoman rule that Greece had been under for almost 400 years, ever since the Ottoman Turks attacked and took Constantinople, the then capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453. Isolated uprisings in 1821 escalated into a war of all-encompassing proportions which, aided by the intervention of Britain, France and Russia, culminated in the establishing of the independent Kingdom of Greece in 1832. It was precisely because of this intervention that the Greek government and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis considered that they should invite representatives of the UK, France and Russia – as the three powers that helped the Hellenes on their path to true freedom – as honorary guests of the 25th March anniversary. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Queen Elizabeth II immediately rejected the possibility of coming, while French President Emanuel Macron initially confirmed the visit, only to cancel after introducing a strict lockdown in his country. Nonetheless, after the laying of wreaths at the tomb of the unknown soldier in front of the Greek Parliament, the parade was attended by the UK’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and French Defence Minister Florence Parly.
ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATED WORLDWIDE Many countries used lights representing the colours of the Greek flag to illuminate their most important or most popular buildings on 25th March, as part of the celebration of Greek independence. Blue and white lights were, thus, installed to light up the Sydney Opera House, parliament buildings in Bucharest and Warsaw, the Olympic Tower in Munich, the Rhine Tower in Düsseldorf and Niagara Falls, while Belgium dressed its famous Manneken Pis (Little Pissing Man) sculpture as a Greek insurgent. It was tough for the citizens to abandon plans for a spectacular celebration of the great jubilee that would include the participation of the entire nation,
In honour of Greek independence, many countries used lights representing the colours of the Greek flag to illuminate their most important or most popular buildings because they have just ended a difficult and painful period. Greece emerged in 2018 from the biggest recession in its history, which had left behind painful austerity measures, poverty, unprecedented levels of unemployment and the departures of more than half a million citizens in search of work and a better life abroad. And just as the economy was beginning to recover, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and Greece again fell into recession, though Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is determined in his intention to move the country forward courageously. It was back in 2019, when the government was formed, that the prime minister announced a major celebration of the anniversary of the start of the Greek struggle for independence, as a sign that normality is returning to life in Greece. He considered certain dates in history as symbolically marking a break with the past, which is particularly important for young people. Now we only need to consign the novel coronavirus to the past, just like the Ottomans once were, and move forward resolutely.
FANINA KOVAČEVIĆ-POPAZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE HELLENIC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
We Embraced The Online Format And Succeeded The Hellenic Business Association has successfully adapted to working online and plans to continue such activities, considering the uncertainty that the economy is facing. Even the traditional cutting of Vasilopita, which represents the central event during the course of a year, was organised in an online format, to the satisfaction of HBA members
an a business association function successfully under the conditions of working online? Fanina Kovačević-Popaz, executive director of the Hellenic Business Association, considers that the answer is yes, and here she shares with our readers HBA’s recipe for success. “The outbreak of the pandemic caused changes in the way of work, with an emphasis placed on safety and preserving the health of employees. Greek companies in Serbia, as well as the most of our members, continued their operations through a system of working from home, conducting business activities through tools of digital communication. The newly emerged situation demanded that we adapt quickly and have good coordination. The shift in the focus of work – from the organisation of events that imply public gatherings, to the intensified exchange of information relating to the impact of the pandemic on the operations of our members, as well as transitioning to a regime of online activity, proved crucial to the successful work of the association in an altered business environment,” explains our interlocutor.
How possible was it to fulfil the plans that you set in 2020 and how much were they adapted, given the situation? - We are very glad that, immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic and the declaring of a state of emergency, the HBA responded to the needs of members in a timely manner and took on the role of an information hub. We informed members about all the measures taken by the government during this period, and also provided relevant data related to the course of the pandemic and its impact on the regular operations of companies in Serbia. We regularly informed members about the regime for crossing borders between Serbia and Greece, given that we received lots of inquiries on this topic. We are still sharing this type of information with our members. Already during the first months of last year we participated in a joint initiative of 12 chambers of commerce, which was launched as a response of the business world to the market changed by the pandemic. These chambers used this occasion to send a joint letter to the Ministry of Economy, with the aim of combatting the negative consequences of the pandemic on the work of companies. In addition
to this, planned activities that didn’t necessarily require the physical presence of members were redirected to online implementation, while we adjusted the work plan. Which online activities would you single out as being the most important and how do you organise them? - During the previous period, in cooperation with our members, we had an opportunity to organise webinars. Specifically, we organised a webinar on the topic of the legal environment for doing business during COVID-19 with the Rokas office, a webinar on the topic of strategic communications with V+O Communication, as well as an internet seminar on the topic of current tax issues with Eurofast Global, as well as other similar activities. Among last year’s activities, I would single out the online dialogue with the customs administration on the topic of the new customs law, which was jointly organised in cooperation with the Belgian-Serbian Business Association and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. We also participated in the realisation of the first online Speed Business Meeting, with the aim of directly acquainting and improving cooperation between three business associations: Hellenic, Belgian and Slovenian.
- As a result of the pandemic, many regular and traditional events cannot be organised in the way we are used to experiencing them. That’s why the HBA decided to embrace technology and support its tradition. The cutting of Vasilopita, which is the central event during the course of the year, and which brought together the largest number of members under pre-pandemic conditions, was organised in an online format. The board of directors used this occasion to address members from a fully equipped studio for internet events, belonging to our member Congress Rental. In the continuation of the event, we presented traditional awards to companies that marked the tenth anniversary of their membership in the HBA, and we organised a raffle for the nomination of this year’s “lucky” member, who received a gold coin.
Under these conditions, how much interest was there in Greek investments in Serbia and establishing new business contacts between Greek and Serbian companies? - During times when the organising of meetings, business gatherings and marketing activities is limited, business associations represent a unique platform for exchanging business contacts, through communication channels that are already developed. The number and diversity of We expect this year's sectors in which Greek companies, - our members What are the most important lessons you’ve Member2Member publication to operate, also attracts Serbian companies that drawn for 2021, and what topics and activities be realised soon, as well as the join our association. In that sense, we recorded will you focus on this year? holding of our regular general new members even during last year, including - The inability to organise business gatherings, both Serbian and Greek companies that clearly as well as their complete exclusion from the assembly recognise the importance of connecting through programme of activities, represented one of membership during the pandemic. Despite this the biggest challenges that we faced. Quickly new crisis, new Greek companies still registered their business presence adapting to a system of working online imposed itself as the only solution in Serbia during the previous period. for the unhindered continuation of activities related to the provision of support to members in business and their mutual interconnection. Taking into consideration the uncertainty faced by the economy, we are planning to Which of the HBA’s upcoming activities would you like to share with continue such activities. And during the course of this year we’ll continue to our readers? inform our members about all factors relevant to doing business in Serbia, as - We are looking forward to the online business meeting with the reprewell as about factors related to the pandemic, the influence of which – judging sentatives of other Greek business associations from the Balkans, at which by current estimates – will continue to change business trends and habits. We representatives of management boards will discuss current economic will also remain focused on providing support to the companies hardest hit by topics in each individual country, as well as the work of the associations the crisis, and they include small and medium-sized enterprises. We will also themselves. We believe that this meeting, which is expected to be held focus on more intensive exchanges of contacts and marketing promotions soon, will provide a good foundation for the further interconnection of the of members within the association itself, through internal communication Greek business community across a broader geographical area. We plan channels, but also through cooperation with similar associations. to continue online activities in the period ahead, and to organise online seminars that relate to legal, accounting and tax issues in the country. Cooperation with other associations and chambers will certainly be an You recently organised the traditional cutting of Vasilopita in an online important aspect of improving and exchanging business contacts. format. How satisfied are you with the implementation of this event?
Greece is Everything You Desire It is known for its unique rocky landscapes, beautiful pristine nature, endless shores and beaches, as well as 1,400 indescribably beautiful islands. Yes, it's Greece! Apart from a rich history, sun and sea, tourism represents a basic characteristic of this amazing country's past and present
e hope that we will open the door to foreign tourists from 14th May, under the condition that they’ve either been vaccinated against COVID-19, or have antibodies or a negative test - said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis, inviting visitors from all over the world as he highlighted the slogan “All you want is Greece”. “This year and forever, all you want is Greece. To put a smile back on your face again, with the hope that you will take back life, all you want is Greece,” said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Teocharis, speaking in his address to the ITB 2021 international tourism exhibition, which was held in an online format. Addressing potential visitors, Theocharis stressed that Greece is ready to welcome them from 14th May, provided they meet one of three conditions: that they’ve been vaccinated, have antibodies or have a negative COVID-19 test. The country’s borders should open for Serbian citizens as of 1st May, under one of these three conditions.
The Greek tourism sector relies almost entirely on foreign visitors, with the highest numbers of guests coming from Germany and the UK, because Greece and the Greek islands are known for three things: ancient civilisation, amazing landscapes and well-established tourism. TOURIST NUMBERS EXCEEDED 31 MILLION PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC Greece is among the main tourist destinations and attractions in Europe, thanks to its rich culture and history, which are reflected in its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and thanks to it having the longest coastline, beautiful islands and even more beautiful beaches. That’s why it’s no surprise that in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 it welcomed more than 31,300,000 visitors, which ensured Greece was one of the most visited countries in Europe and worldwide. Tourism in modern Greece began flourishing in the 1960s and ‘70s, when a huge number of hotels and other accommodation and infrastructure
facilities were built. Events of planetary importance held in Athens, such as the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, had a great impact on strengthening the country’s tourism industry. But the turning point came back in 1994, which was the first year that the number of people opting to visit Greece and its islands exceeded 10 million. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES REVEAL THE PAST Greece boasts hundreds of archaeological and historical sites that provide perfect depictions of the country’s past. Greeks are particularly proud of their culture and are very passionate when speaking about their country, with their feeling that the culture of Greece is the very definition of their national and ethnic identity. This means that, if you want to understand this country, you must acquaint yourself with its traditions, religion, music, language, food and wine during your visit. Greece is so rich in culture and beauty that you will never explore it fully, no matter how many times you visit. That’s one of the reasons why this country is included on the list of the world’s 20 best holiday destinations. Everything that exists in Greece – from its nature, beaches and inhabitants, to local specialities – compels people to return again and again to this wonderful country every summer.
The most remarkable beaches are Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia, Navagio Beach on Zakynthos, Porto Katsiki Beach on Lefkada and Super Paradise Beach on Mykonos
IT HAS 1,400 ISLANDS, EACH MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THE LAST The country has a population of around 11 million, four million of whom live in the capital of Athens. This mountainous peninsula is located on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Encompassing a total area of 130,800km2, the country is surrounded on three sides by the sea, while its northern side borders other Balkan countries. Thanks to its many islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, as many as 1,400 of them, around 200 of which are inhabited, Greece has the longest coastline in Europe and the fifth longest in the world. Some of the most popular island resorts include Mykonos, with its cosmopolitan character, Santorini, which offers the world’s most romantic sunset, and
Rhodes, an island of medieval castles, sun and butterflies. There is also Crete, with its revolutionary spirit, Ios, with its wild nightlife, Corfu, with its Venetian style, and Ithaca, the homeland of Ulysses. Other obligatory destinations include Samos, the greenest of all Greek islands, and Skiathos, with its long, sandy beaches. And these are just a few examples of its heavenly bathing areas. Greece is world famous for its amazing beaches. Whether sandy or pebble, popular or hidden, beaches in Greece will satisfy even the most discerning tourists. The most remarkable beaches are in the Cyclades and Ionian Islands, such as Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia, Navagio Beach on Zakynthos, Porto Katsiki Beach on Lefkada and Super Paradise Beach on
Mykonos. Greek beaches are ranked among the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in the world every year. DON’T FORGET TO TOUR ITS WONDERFUL VILLAGES Apart from beautiful beaches, Greece also has traditional and picturesque villages with architecture that varies depending on the geographical location. For example, the villages of the Dodecanese islands have a medieval style, while the villages on the mainland have an earthen hue. Regardless of how they look, every Greek village is well supplied with basic necessities, while tourist centres can boast of having all kinds of shops – from mini-markets
and small shops with traditional products to branded outlets with expensive items and designer collections. Apart from not being able to resist swimming, sunbathing and shopping, tourists also can’t help but try some Greek specialities. The cuisine of this country is comprised of dishes dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks, based on olives, figs, cheese and honey, traditional dishes like moussaka and roast lamb, but also modern cuisine. Although Greece is primarily the number one summer destination, with tourists flocking there to swim, sunbath, enjoy beautiful beaches and tour cities and archaeological sites, this country is a wonderful place to visit 365 days a year. Admit it ... all you want is Greece, right?