Diplomacy & Commerce magazine / DC#94 / April 2024

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23 APRIL 2024






H.E. MICHAL PAVÚK Ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia Journalist and Professor DINKO GRUHONJIĆ Diplomat and spouse of the President of the Republic of Serbia TAMARA VUČIĆ



Director robert.coban@color.rs


Editor in Chief dragan.nikolic@color.rs


Mijat Kontić Žikica Milošević


DRAGAN VUČEVIĆ dragan.vucevic@color.rs

JELENA JAHURA jelena.jahura@color.rs


Goran Zlatković

Nebojša Babić, Ivana Todorović

Imre Szabo Saša Knežević



Snežana Bjelotomić


Studio Lončar

Contributors: Robert Čoban

Duška Jovanić



Zemun, Atanasija Pulje 22


PRETPLATA doo office@pretplata.rs

+381 11 314 99 21




Ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia



Diplomat and spouse of the President of the Republic of Serbia






Writer, President, and Creative Director of the KROKODIL Association






Executive Director of the Serbian Association of Managers

Journalist and Professor SCIENCE


Projects Funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia




Acting Director of the Republic of Serbia’s Science Fund

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Blessed by Geography and History

These days, I often speak about how working in the region of former Yugoslavia is a great fortune, and contrary to prevailing narratives, we are blessed by geography and history. The space of the once-shared state is small enough that all of us in the business know each other, collaborate, and invite each other to conferences and festivals... Yet it is large enough to have everything: the Mediterranean for swimming and mountains for skiing, the Orient and Baroque, the Alps and Šumadija, Belgrade’s rafts, and clubs, and the sophistication of Zagreb’s „Esplanade”, ćevapi, mantije, pljukanci, and štrukli; vineyards and olive groves...

In seven days of April, I moderated a panel in Rovinj with players from Belgrade’s gastro scene and the legendary Sveti Janevski from Tikveš Winery in North Macedonia; we visited Despotika Winery near Smederevska Palanka as part of the „Taste Awards by Metro” project; then I participated in a panel at the ESG Adria Summit in Tivat with panelists from Belgrade, Podgorica, and Sarajevo; on the same day in Sjenica in Sandžak, in cooperation with UNDP Serbia and the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, we organized

a conference on youth engagement in shaping new policies; on the same day in Belgrade, at the Madlena Palace of Arts, we organized the traditional Pro Fermina conference. In Zagreb that evening, we also organized a party with 1,100 guests to celebrate the 1st birthday of the Hello! portal in Croatia; during those days in Novi Sad, at the Easter Promenade festival, we organized a photo shoot of children with rabbits, and then my colleague Ivana Rajinac organized an online conference „Summer 2024” on how hoteliers, tourism workers, and major festivals are preparing for the upcoming season. You can watch the conference on the Color Media Communications YouTube channel.

This is how my 7 days of April looked. It doesn’t take much explanation to understand how those same 7 days looked in Serbian media; it was enough to turn on the television and look at the front pages of the daily newspapers. We are blessed by geography and history, and it’s high time we realized that and stopped behaving as if geography and history have cursed us as societies.

Serbian Tuscany - View of vineyards on the hills around Smederevska Palanka

Looking Ahead to a Common Future in the European Family

As Serbia looks toward its future within the EU, it can draw on Slovakia´s experience and partnership to navigate the challenges and realize the shared vision of a united, stable, and prosperous future

Serbia is his first ambassadorial tenure, and he is delighted about it. H.E. Michal Pavúk, the new ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia came to Belgrade with a clear mandate and vision – to maintain excellent political relations, to foster bilateral political dialogue, and to support Serbia on its euro-integration path. It was our honour to speak with him and to wish him a warm welcome to our capital.

First, we would like to wish you a warm welcome to Serbia as the new Ambassador of Slovakia. Is this your first time visiting our country?

I am truly delighted to be posted to Serbia in my first ambassadori-

al tenure. Indeed, this is also my first time residing in Belgrade, although I have had the opportunity to visit Belgrade and Serbia on several occasions in the past, mostly for business-related en-

engaged in various diplomatic endeavours aimed at fostering cooperation and understanding. Dealing with the Western Balkans and Serbia file from bilateral, European, and transatlantic perspec-


gagements. Each visit has provided me with valuable insights into the rich cultural heritage and dynamic energy of Belgrade. My previous experience as a Slovak career diplomat has often brought me to the Western Balkans region, including Serbia, where I have

tives allowed me to delve deeper into regional affairs and further enriched my perspective on the complexities of this region and its significance on the international stage. I dare to say that this experience provided me with a solid foundation upon which to build

meaningful connections and collaborations during my tenure here in Belgrade.

Me and my family are excited to now call Belgrade our home and look forward to further deepening the longstanding ties between Slovakia and Serbia, while also exploring the cultural richness and warmth of this remarkable city and your country.

Last year Serbia and Slovakia celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations. What was the key to maintaining good relations between these two countries?

Indeed, last year we celebrated 30 years of independence of the Slovak Republic and 30 years of

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Ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia

diplomatic relations between Slovakia and Serbia. In honour of this diplomatic jubilee, mutual support, and closeness of the two nations, we introduced a commemorative postage stamp, issued by the Post of Serbia.

It’s important to acknowledge that our diplomatic relations have deeper roots. Both our countries have experience with living in multinational states. Throughout history, there have been enduring ties between our peoples, with notable figures such as Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, Serbian philologist and linguist, and Ľudovít Štúr, Slovak language reformer, who contributed to a sense of mutual understanding and friendship by fostering cultural and intellectual exchanges. There is also a special value bonding the two countries and their relations, namely the presence of the Slovak national minority in Serbia, counting almost 42,000 people, and a smaller, but not less important Serbian community in Slovakia.

Moreover, our nations share common values, including a commitment to democracy, human rights, multilateralism based on respect for international law, and the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. These shared principles provide a solid foundation for cooperation in various areas, from economic partnerships to cultural exchanges. Importantly, the absence of any significant unresolved issues between our countries has also contributed to the maintenance of good relations. This has allowed us to focus on building constructive dialogue and finding common ground in areas of mutual interest.

Looking ahead, we are committed to a common future for Slovakia and Serbia in the European family. Slovakia celebrating this year’s 20 years of EU membership serves as a testament to the enduring benefits and opportunities the integration can bring. As Serbia looks toward its future within the EU, it can draw on Slovakia´s experience and partnership to navigate the challenges and realize the shared vision of a united, stable, and prosperous future.

What do you consider to be the most important achievement of the bilateral cooperation between Serbia and Slovakia?

Not easy to single out one… Forging a strong partnership between our governments paved the way for strong economic relation relations. With some disruptions during the pandemic, our trade exchange is growing steadily, amounting to a record turnover of almost 1,2 bln. € in 2022.

We are very proud of the Slovak national minority living here in Serbia, who have preserved their language, traditions, and culture for centuries. An exceptional example of the connection of nations is the unique and world-famous Slovak naïve painting. In the autumn of last year, UNESCO accepted Serbia’s candidacy for the inscription of Slovak naïve art on the Repre-

gathering Slovak and Serbian companies. We are eager to announce the opening of a new Honorary Consulate of the Slovak Republic in Serbia with a seat in Bački Petrovac, which would constitute another strong anchor in our bilateral relations.

In which areas can Serbia and Slovakia deepen their already traditionally good bilateral relations?

In enhancing the already strong ties between Slovakia and Serbia there are numerous avenues for further deepening of cooperation. Exceptional political relations, geographical proximity, linguistic similarities, shared values, and close interpersonal ties amplified by the


vation, IT solutions, energy, food, agriculture, security and defense technologies, and transportation. The favorable geographical position of Serbia allows companies to think about spreading their activities further onto the markets of the Western Balkan region. Our companies are coming up with modern solutions in the field of waste management, processing, and utilization, renewable energies, and also in the construction of new and modernization of existing infrastructure. I believe that soon we will hear more about the projects of Slovak companies with a positive impact on the environment.

As a world-leading car producer with an annual production of over 1 mil. of vehicles, Slovakia currently suffers from an acute shortage of qualified labor force. Understanding certain challenges in the Serbian automotive industry and the ongoing restructuring of companies that operate in both our countries, we see room in for cooperation

sentative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and we are expecting a positive outcome by the end of the year.

I am convinced that 2024 will see the fruition of many planned initiatives, whether in the political field, such as long-awaited political consultations, visits at the highest political level, or in the economic field, holding of the 11th Meeting of Joint Slovak-Serbian Commission for Economic Cooperation accompanied by Business Forum

presence of the Slovak national minority in the vast area of Vojvodina provide solid foundations. When it comes to foreign trade, and especially the investment activities of Slovak companies, Serbia is the most important partner of Slovakia in the Western Balkans. Our mutual trade turnover is increasing steadily, and we believe it has more potential. There are many untapped business opportunities in industries where we believe the Slovak Republic has something to offer to Serbia, including inno-

in the area of sharing of the labor force.

As a steadfast supporter of the EU enlargement policy and Serbia´s accession ambitions, Slovakia has been engaged in several twinning projects and through this instrument supporting Serbia’s aspirations, sharing its unique pre-accession process and successful transformation.

How do you see the future of our cooperation? Are there certain


goals in mind that you would like to realize?

I came to Serbia with a clear mandate and vision – while maintaining excellent political relations I aim to foster bilateral political dialogue, and support Serbia on its eurointegration path in areas where Slovakia has had ample experience, especially in the fields of public administration and fiscal reform, green transition and adaptation to a climate change; help establish contacts and cooperation between our two countries’ academia and research institutions, and a range of other tasks, including the attention to the needs of the Slovak national minority in Serbia. I am eager to work both with Serbia’s institutions and the representation of Slovaks in Serbia to enhance their position as a positive connection between the two countries.

Our economic exchange, although at a good level, still largely underperforms our political relations. As a matter of priority, I will invest my energy to enhance business cooperation and bring Slovak companies and investors to Serbia and more Serbian companies to Slovakia.

What would you say to the citizens of Serbia - why should they visit Slovakia?

Slovakia and Serbia share historical ties, especially due to their common past within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This shared experience fosters a sense of cultural understanding and curiosity about one another´s country. Also, Slovakia´s central location in Europe makes it easy to reach Serbia, whether by plane, train, or car. Its compact size also allows visitors to explore a wide range of attractions within a short time.

On many occasions I am trying to explain to my interlocutors, that Slovakia doesn’t have to be just a

to the picturesque valleys of the Slovak Paradise National Park, outdoor enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the great outdoors.

Additionally, our cities offer a vibrant mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. Whether strolling through the cobblestone streets of Bratislava’s Old Town, enjoying the bustling nightlife of Košice, or experiencing the cultural and abundant festival scene, visitors will be captivated by Slovakia’s unique blend of tradition and innovation. More-


short stop on their trip. First and foremost, I would emphasize the rich cultural heritage that Slovakia has to offer. From magnificent castles and historic towns to UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the breathtaking Spiš Castle and the charming town of Banska Štiavnica, visitors will be immersed in centuries of history and tradition.

Furthermore, Slovakia boasts some of the most stunning natural scenery in Europe. From the towering peaks of the High Tatras

over, Slovakia is renowned for its warm hospitality and welcoming atmosphere. Visitors can look forward to indulging in delicious traditional cuisine, sampling world-class Slovak wines, and experiencing the warmth and friendliness of the Slovak people.

I would encourage the citizens of Serbia to visit Slovakia and discover for themselves the beauty, culture, and hospitality that our country has to offer. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors, exploring cen-

turies-old castles and towns, or simply enjoying the vibrant city life, Slovakia has something for everyone.

And how would you invite Slovak citizens to Serbia - what is it you like the most here, and what would you recommend to your compatriots?

According to my information, last year your country was the first in the world in terms of the growth of income from foreign tourists. Although we do not have exact data, I am convinced, that this also reflects the increasing interest of Slovaks to visit your country.

Many Slovaks may know about Serbia through their relatives or friends dwelling in picturesque, Slovak-populated villages in Bačka, Banat, and Srem. However, they might not know much about the magnificent natural landscapes, medieval fortresses, or unique monasteries. Similarly to Slovakia, Serbia has also a thriving spa tourism.

Being here for something more than two months, I am embarking on the adventure of getting to know your country better. Whenever my schedule allows, I try to plan at least one visit to a region outside of Belgrade. And, indeed, I take it as one of my missions to enhance tourist traffic between our two countries.

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Friends are the Biggest Treasure and Takeaway from Serbia


former head of the mission in the Serbian office of the Georgian Embassy in Athens, and his spouse Mrs Gvanca Keshelava

The former head of the mission in the Serbian office of the Georgian Embassy in Athens and his spouse Gvanca Keshelava left Belgrade in December 2023 left Belgrade and said farewell to many friends they would never forget.

What have you been doing since you left Belgrade?

It has been almost four months since the completion of our tenure in Serbia and moving back to Georgia. At first, It felt as if we had never left Georgia. It still feels so.  Serbia and its people have received us with wide open arms and hearts. Our diplomatic posting lasted for almost five years, but each and every day we felt at home. Nevertheless, we all need new challenges and opportunities.

Currently, we reside in Tbilisi, one of the most notable parts of the capital. I have been offered the position of Adviser to the First Deputy Minister of MFA and at the same time, I am working on composing a new structural unit (Department) in the headquarters. Gvantsa has resumed her diplomatic career and is working at the division for neighboring countries, responsible for the South Caucasus region. Our kids are going to school which they adore. They have gained new friends and of course, have improved their Georgian language skills.

Along with my professional life, I try to be actively involved in social activities and devote time to a healthy lifestyle. Just recently I participated in the traditional football tournament “Diplomatic Cup 2024” organized among MFA and diplomatic missions accredited in Geor-

gia. It is symbolic that the MFA team got the victory. In general, football has been the main topic of discussion in our country recently. The Georgian National Football Team has made history by qualifying for the European Championship for the first time. This means that Georgia will make its debut at the European Championship this Summer in Germany. We are very proud of our National Team.

Life and work in Tbilisi is extremely comfortable and pleasant. We took advantage of each occasion to rediscover Georgia and its beautiful landscape.

What (and who) do you miss the most from Serbia?

Friends. They are the biggest treasure and takeaway from Serbia. We hope to host them in Georgia one day and be able to recall all the great memories.


The Most Important of the Least Important Things in Life

The motley crew

Football is passion, football is a real craze. At least on our continent. And this year is the year of the Euro ‚24, which is going to be played entirely in Germany. The current champion is Italy, for the second time, narrowly stripping England of their first title on their home ground, preventing them from the reprise of the 1966 World Cup. England would have been the 11th team to win the tournament, which makes it much more „motley“ than the World Cup when it comes to the

list of champions. So far, Spain (3 titles), Italy (2 titles), Soviet Union, West Germany (2 titles), United Germany, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, The Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, and France (2 titles) have won the prestigious title. As we can see, three countries that no longer exist (West Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the USSR) have won the Euro, and Yugoslavia was twice the finalist (yet another dissolved country). Some people make the continuity tables with Germany enlisted as a 3-times winner, but some

also add Czechia, Slovakia, and all 15 Soviet republics to the list, which would make 24 countries that have ever felt victorious at the Euro! (Yes, Tajikistan was the European champion in 1960, live with that!). As opposed to the World Cup, the USSR was the real superpower, since they were vicechampions 3 times – in 1964, 1972, and 1988. Some old rules were applied in 1968 because the final match was replayed in this period since penalties were considered an „unjust“ method to win the title (they, in fact, are!), and in 1996 and 2000, the „Golden Goal Rule“ was applied, so the match was stopped in the extra time the moment the first goal is scored. This year, Serbia will participate, together with Croatia, a slight favourite, and Slovenia, and the German sun will see the new champions. Will it be a new team? Maybe. Croatia, Belgium, and England are considered quite eligible for the first-ever title. See you in Germany, fans!

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INTERESTING FACTS MAY 2024 NATIONAL DAYS POLAND National Day (Constitution Day) 3 ICRC, IFRC International Red Cross Day 8 EU Schuman Day 9 ISRAEL Independence Day 12 NORWAY Constitution Day ARGENTINA Primera Junta Day 17 25
© Shutterstock.com by Žikica Milošević

25 MARCH 2024

Great reception for the National Day of the Hellenic Republic

Serbian officials, members of foreign diplomatic missions, representatives of the Greek business community, educational and cultural institutions, Serbian media, as well as Greek and Serbian friends of the Embassy, honored us with their presence on Monday, March 25, at the reception of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade on the occasion of the Greek national day.

That same evening, the City of Belgrade illuminated Slavija Square with the colors of the Greek flag.

On Sunday, March 24, a doxology was held at the Cathedral Church in Belgrade, in the presence of the Greek ambassador, the ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus, staff of both embassies and Greeks living in Serbia. A wreath was then laid at the statue of Rigas Feraios by the Greek ambassador and the defense attaché, Captain Evangelos Ekatomatis.

11 APRIL 2024

Lebanon singer Ghassan Yammine in Belgrade

In Belgrade, on April 11, 2024, the famous Lebanese singer Ghassan Yammine held a concert for the first time. At the concert titled „De moi à Aznavour,” the Lebanese artist was accompanied on the piano by French pianist Guillaume Vincent, who also arranged some of the most beautiful chansons by Charles Aznavour for this occasion.

The concert was presented to Belgrade by the Embassy of Lebanon, and among the numerous guests were representatives of the diplomatic corps. The visitors were also greeted by the Ambassador of Lebanon, H.E. Ms. Nada Al Akl.


15 APRIL 2024

Made in Italy Day: A fashion show inspired by Queen Jelena of Savoy

On the occasion of “Made in Italy” day and marking 100 years since the construction of the Italian Embassy in Belgrade began, at the request of the Italian Queen Helena of Montenegro (Queen Helena of Savoy), as a building that symbolically was supposed to represent the long and rich tradition of relations between Rome and Belgrade, organized by the Italian Embassy and Fabrika agency, last night in the Residence of the Italian Ambassador, 2 original fashion shows inspired by Regina Elena were held:

Fashion show of the Montenegrin creator, art historian, and art critic, Dr. Anastazija Miranović with a collection inspired by the era of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty and Queen Jelena of Savoy. All models were made by hand and each dress was a real work of art. The creator also paid special attention to the supplementary assortment, which revived the atmosphere of the era in which Queen Jelena of Savoy lived.

Fashion show of the Italian creator, costume designer, and scenographer Michele Guadiomonte, known for his hand-painted models, with the “Journey to the Moon” collection dedicated to Queen Jelena of Savoy. At the very end, a special attention and delight was caused by a beautiful silk dress on which was drawn the image of Queen Jelena of Savoy.

The audience, which included numerous ambassadors, officials, and representatives of international organizations, but also figures from public life, primarily cultural, who cannot often be seen at public

events, felt as if they were at court, enjoyed themselves, and saw off the spectacular models shown by the creators.

As part of this event, the famous Italian makeup brand, KIKO Milano, was also promoted, which connected its presence at this fashion show with the opening of the first KIKO store in Podgorica, the birthplace of Queen Regina Elena, to whom this council is dedicated.

The general sponsors of the IFIB event were UniCredit Bank and Bank Intesa, and the sponsors of the evening were Hotel AMI Petrovac, Hotel Nobel Belgrade, and M2Comminication, which was in charge of total design. A great contribution to the original impression of the event was made by the team of hair stylist Bojan Nastasić and makeup artist Bojana Dumić.

Benetton presented the Spring Summer Collection 2024 in Belgrade

The Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Luca Gori presented a great fashion show at the Embassy of Italy in Belgrade. Famous Italian fashion industry Benetton showed the latest Spring Summer Collection 2024.

The fashion show was followed by a networking cocktail with the presence of many members of the diplomatic corps, and the Serbian fashion and cultural scene.

Benetton and The Revolution of Advertising Exhibition was opened right after the show.

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23 APRIL 2024

23 APRIL 2024

King’s Day, a famous Dutch holiday celebrated in Belgrade

On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, a reception was held at the Sava Center in Belgrade organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia to mark King’s Day. Numerous dignitaries, members of the diplomatic corps, and representatives of Serbian society attended the ceremonial event.

King’s Day is a Dutch national holiday during which the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their king as well as their culture and traditions.


Building Bridges Between Nations is the Essence of Diplomacy

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TAMARA VUČIĆ Diplomat and spouse of the President of the Republic of Serbia
When there are good intentions behind everything we do, even failure becomes something we can face with more ease

When someone receives an award, the most common question is „what does this award mean to you?”. There is no doubt that I am speaking from a viewpoint of a former journalist, but I thought that I would frame my speech by answering this exact question.

This award means a lot to me, primarily because it is an award for building bridges between nations, which, it seems to me, is the essence of my primary occupation, which is diplomacy.

The goal of diplomacy is precisely to build bridges between nations and people and to provide that space for dialogue, talks, negotiations and agreements. I consider myself a pacifist both by character and by conviction, so that works in favor of diplomacy as well.

This award carries big importance for me because I was nominated for it by wonderful, young, educated and working people from the south of our

country, and I sincerely thank them for that.

Likewise, sincere congratulations to all winners of this year’s Diplomacy & Commerce magazine award. I believe you will agree with me that awards are first of all a great honor, but also a responsibility. Awards are there to tell us that we are doing something well and that someone finally noticed it. They are there to give us additional motivation and inspiration, but also to remind us how important responsibility is behind everything we do. When there are good intentions behind everything we do, even failure becomes something we can face with more ease.

In the end, I would like to end with a wonderful quote from our Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić, since we are talking about bridges, the physical ones, but also the metaphorical ones. He said that out of everything that a man builds and creates in his life, nothing is better or more valuable than bridges. In honor of building bridges between nations and between people, thank you.



Celebrating 8 Years of Excellence

Winners of the Diplomacy&Commerce Awards 2024 Announced

In the beautiful setting of the Yugoslav Cinematheque in Belgrade, on April 9th, the 8th birthday of Diplomacy & Commerce magazine was celebrated in front of many guests and friends of the editorial staff. As a special segment of the celebration, twenty-one Diplomacy & Commerce awards for 2024 were awarded to individuals, companies, and institutions that made an outstanding contribution to the economic, social, and humanitarian development of Serbia.

The guests present at the opening of the event were addressed by Žikica Milošević, the first editor of “Diplomacy & Commerce” magazine, who pointed out that the idea behind “Diplomacy & Commerce” magazine is precisely the culture of dialogue and listening to the other side. Tomislav Momirović, Minister of Domestic and Foreign Trade in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and Tijana Palkovljević Bugarski, director of Galeria Matica srpska, addressed the audience as well.

Award winners were decided by an eminent jury composed of Marko Čadež, president of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce; Boško Vučurević, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina; Brankica Janković, Commissioner for Equality; Tijana Palkovljević, director of Matica Srpska Gallery; Nenad Milić, executive director of IAB Serbia; Stevan Ristić, Media Association, Nada Filipović, Association of Brewers of Serbia, Danijela Popović-Jurić, Red Communications.

“Serbia today is a modern economy of Southeast Europe, a country of innovation and new investments. Successful companies and individuals who are with us this night also contribute to this. Today we have the opportunity to thank those who, with their work, vision, and dedication, improve the business environment and contribute to the development of our country,” said Momirović.

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The special award of “Diplomacy & Commerce” magazine for building bridges between nations was awarded to Tamara Vučić, the wife of the President of the Republic of Serbia.

“In my opinion, diplomacy and the goal of diplomacy is precisely to build bridges between nations, between people. And to provide that space for dialogue, for conversation, for negotiations, for agreements. I consider myself a pacifist both by character and by conviction, and that in itself is in favor of diplomacy,” Tamara Vučić pointed out.

The following awards were given at the ceremony:

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for the best socially responsible campaign was awarded to the companies Coca-Cola HBC and NLB Komercijalna banka, which was received by Dejan Đurović, Coca-Cola HBC and Danilo Grbović, NLB Komercijalna banka. The winners were presented with the award by Mihailo Vesović, in front of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

The Diplomacy & Commerce Award for supporting cultural institutions and artists was awarded to ERSTE Bank. During the ceremony, Boško Vučurović, president of the Vojvodina Chamber of Commerce, presented the award to Zlata Lukić and Tamara Simović, representatives of ERSTE Bank.

The Diplomacy & Commerce Award for support of science and education (company) was awarded to the Miodrag Kostić Foundation for the “Palace of Science” project. The award was presented by Branikica Janković, commissioner for equality, while Tamara Veselinović received the award in front of the MK group.


The Diplomacy & Commerce award for projects in the field of “green economy and sustainable development” was awarded to the company Heineken Serbia for the project “Reservoir“, the award was received on behalf of the company by Biljana Bobić Subin, and the award was presented to her by Jasmina Lukić from the company NIS Serbia, laureate of D&C Awards from 2023.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for business improvement was awarded to the company “DHG group” for the project “Helvetica Residences” Milena Stevović received the award on behalf of “DHG Group”, while Princess Jelisaveta Karađorđević presented her with the award.

The Diplomacy & Commerce Award for digital transformation was awarded to the Center for Digital Transformation of PKS, the director Predrag Nikolić received the award on behalf of the Center, while the award was presented to him by Zoran Puzović from Srbijavoz, laureate of the D&C Awards for 2023.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for improving business conditions and the economic environment was awarded to the Provincial Secretariat for the Economy of AP Vojvodina, the award was received by Nenad Ivanišević, the Provincial Secretary for Economy and Tourism While the award was presented to him by Nada Filipović, on behalf of the Association of Brewers of Serbia and a member of this year’s Jury.

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The Diplomacy & Commerce Award for the improvement of bilateral cooperation was awarded to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Serbia, the award was received by H.E. Mohamed Amin Belhaž, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, and the award was presented by Dejan Ljevnajić in front of the Jahorina Olympic Center and our last year’s laureate.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for contribution to the development of the local community and civil society was awarded to UniCredit Bank. The award was received by Svetlana Bunčić on behalf of the bank and was presented by Aleksandar Tripković, director of AstraZeneca and last year’s laureate.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for business innovation was awarded to Milšped Group Maja Simić accepted the award on behalf of the company. Milica Popović, representing the Mozzart company as the last year’s laureate, presented the award.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for the best relations with the media in the institution category was awarded to the Tourism Organization of Serbia, the award was received by Marija Labović, director of TOS. The award was presented to the winner by Boško Rupić from the Air Serbia company, laureate of the D&C Awards for 2023.

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for the best relations with the media in the company category was awarded to the company Allegra Krstarenja, the award was received on behalf of the company by Mihailo Vukić, while the award was presented to the winner by Đorđe Višacki, from the Olympic Committee of Serbia

The Diplomacy & Commerce award for the best relations with the media in the category of embassies was awarded to the Embassy of Italy in Serbia. On behalf of the embassy, the award was received by H.E. Luka Gori, Ambassador of Italy in Serbia, while the award was presented to him by William Hopkinson from the Great Britain Embassy, last year’s laureate.


The Diplomacy & Commerce Award for the promotion of social activism was awarded by the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation On behalf of the Foundation, Petra Divac presented the award which found its way to the hands of the Krokodil association. It was received by Milena Berić and Vladimir Arsenijević

Diplomacy & Commerce magazine’s special award for the promotion of art in HoReCa facilities was presented to Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Vinary, and it was received by Uroš Sarjanović on behalf of the company. The award was presented to him by Danijela Popović Jurić, a Red Communication, member of the jury.

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Diplomacy & Commerce magazine’s special award for the most successful businessman abroad originating from Serbia was awarded to Zaga Čolović in front of the Beauty Handmade London company, the award was presented by Dragana Vasiljević, in front of the Zvonko Bogdan winery and last year’s laureate. The Diplomacy & Commerce award for the most professional personality in the media went to Jelena Zorić, and the award was presented by Duška Jovanić. In her name, the award was received by her colleague, Marija Janković, editor of Nedeljnik VREME.

The special award of Diplomacy & Commerce magazine for digital innovations in the service of citizens was awarded to the company Novi Sad Gas DP, and the award was received by Milan Đukić Una Barišić in front of IAB Serbia presented the award.

The Diplomacy & Commerce magazine’s special award for creative innovation went to the FitPass company, the award was received by Marija Pasuljević. The award was presented by Danijela Vasić GTC

Diplomacy & Commerce magazine’s special award for networking “Miodrag Bogič” went to Ervin Pašanović, Adventis Real Estate Management Ltd. The award was presented to him by Duško Krsmanović, UK Export Finance for CEE and Balkans.

The event was supported by British Motors, DHG Group, Heineken, Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Vinary and Tikveš.


In a conversation with the writer and creative director of the Krokodil Association, Vladimir Arsenijević, we covered the topics of social activism, lack of official support and growing violence in society.

Why is the Diplomacy & Commerce magazine award for the promotion of social activism given to the Krokodil Association important?

It has immeasurable importance, indeed. At the award ceremony, I said that awards are the least of the reasons why we do what we do, but it is also true that they are a tangible validation that all this

still reaches the eyes and hearts of people and that, despite the loneliness we often feel, there are still those people who share with us the same values in which we firmly believe. In the toxic social environment in which we have been living in Serbia for years, even decades, this is proof that not everyone is defeated, as well as a strong impetus to continue and even boost our diverse activities.

Free the Streets. Free the People

I perceive myself exclusively through a minority position in a society that obviously chooses to go astray and works exclusively for the benefit of its harm


How challenging is it to engage in social activism in Serbia? How does the system and society react to the activities of civil sector organizations of this type? Do you receive support or not?

There is no official support for us in today’s Serbia. On the contrary, there is misunderstanding, hatred, all kinds of accusations, unrestrained threats, a lot of insults and a whole series of institutional and non-institutional pressures. We are currently faced with about thirty slapp lawsuits because of which we spend our days in various courts defending ourselves against ridiculous accusations such as „insolent and reckless behaviour” or, let’s say, the accusation that, when we removed nationalist graffiti from the facade of the Institute of Chemistry, Metallurgy and Mining, which faces a children’s playground in the upper part of Mitićeva Rupa, „we damaged the external appearance of the building by applying white paint on the white wall”. Word for word!

Which projects of the Krokodil Association would you single out as the most significant and why?

We prefer to talk about initiatives because we try to act bottom-up


and engage people to join us as much as they can. In this sense, the initiatives that we consider the most important are „Free the Streets/Free the People”, dedicated both to the removal of hateful writings on walls that have terribly contaminated our urban environments in recent years and instead painting legally allowed murals for which we hire the most eminent muralists and street artists, as well as advocating a campaign whose goal is to raise awareness among people in Serbia about this issue, but also to work on changes and amendments to the legislation that regulates this area. I would also like to mention the „Why do you say love but think war?” initiative, aimed at exposing and dismantling the hidden influence of political structures on the startling increase in violence in our society. There are also various charity activities such as collecting and distributing humanitarian aid for Ukrainian citizens in the areas most threatened by the war, the establishment of the first Ukrainian library in the KROKODIL Centre and the transformation of our residency for writers in Writer-in-Exile programme for Ukrainian writers.

Furthermore, with the help of people, we actively help Palestinian refugees from Gaza who have found refuge in our country, etc. All this is only part of our socio-political action, which is always two-way, because on the one hand, it is intended for those

22 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs CULTURAL INTERVIEW
Photos © Imre Szabo

who need help, but at the same time, it actively fights against despondency, parochialism, auto-victimization, paranoia and an acute lack of elementary empathy, all of which are negative phenomena that have reached astonishing proportions in our society and once again made us a pariah among European nations. Of course, the KROKODIL Festival, the KROKODIL Centre and our Writers’ Residence remain among our most important activities. We are glad to bridge the artificial division and the invisible wall that supposedly separates the pursuit of culture from socio-political activism. For us, in the KROKODIL Association, there are no visible or invisible boundaries.

What needs to be done to eliminate the prejudices that exist towards activism in Serbia?

I thought it was quite shocking when, during the tide of deep and sincere pain caused by the massacre at the Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School and the protests that started because of it, the whole thing was reduced to reality shows which were blamed as a sole culprit for something this horrifying and tragic that, unfortunately, happened in our country, became even possible and perhaps in a certain sense expected. Without any intention of absolving reality shows for all the awfulness they serve up every day, it was still obvious to me that the solution to the problem does not lie there because it goes much deeper.

Let’s not even go into a terrible environment that has been systematically created in Serbia since the year 2000, which affects our youngest generations so negatively, the streets that they walk on every day, which are dotted with the most hateful, narrow-minded and/or paranoid messages and unrestrained glorification of hardened war criminals and various others criminals, scoundrels and hooligans. Let’s just peruse textbooks and examine what we are teaching our children and the horrific image of the context in which they are growing up becomes clearer. Dubravka Stojanović wrote a truly disturbing book about it, an in-depth analysis of history textbooks in the last hundred years

in Serbia under the telling title „The Past is Coming” (“Prošlost Dolazi“). If you are still doubtful about this, I highly recommend it to people to read it with an open heart and mind and then think carefully about everything in detail. Maybe then some things will become clearer to them. In

ination of the portrait of the war criminal Ratko Mladić in Njegoševa Street. The reaction we got from people exceeded all our expectations - we collected seven times more funds than needed and thus decided to start a fund that we called Slapp Back, which we will use to help activ-


that hard-to-imagine version of our future, the attitude towards activism and activists would be significantly different than it is today.

Could you share with us the Krokodil Association’s plans for the rest of 2024?

We recently launched a fund-raising campaign to prevent Aida Čorović from serving a two-month prison sentence for throwing an egg at the abom-

ists and all free-thinking people who find themselves in a similar predicament with the state and its repressive apparatus. It is a fantastic circumstance that everything happened in a very organic way because without the will of the citizens to participate in such an activity, none of this would be possible. We also continue to collect humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees in Serbia as well as for Ukraine, where we will travel for the fourth time in the autumn.

The new, sixteenth KROKODIL Festival will take place from June 21 to 23, where we will once again showcase a truly exciting selection of local, regional and foreign writers who will present themselves during three evenings on the large KROKODIL stage in the amphitheatre in front of the Museum of Yugoslavia in Belgrade. We will have many other programmes going on during those three days at the Festival’s debate and children’s zone where daily activities will take place. Plus, there are many more interesting activities in the KROKODIL Centre.

In your books, from „Potpalublje” (“Below Deck”) to „Duhovi” (“Ghosts”), you created a „portrait of a generation that has no chance”. Are there any chances for today’s generations to continue moving forward from that point or is it also doomed to stagnate?

It would be unfair and deeply embarrassing for someone like me, who has just entered the seventh decade of his life, to direct any criticism to the younger generations. You are always doomed to fail in that, because the world rests on them, whatever they are like. For me, following the tragic 1990s which should serve as a perennial warning and a corrective measure, the way young people have been growing up in Serbia is a very painful topic. I have often paraphrased Dragan Živadinov, who said that our grandchildren will eventually become like our real children. Only later did it dawn on me that these very dominant and aggressive segments of the young generation today, that is depressed young football hooligans and haters of everything and everyone, are the real children of their parents, who were wanted and carefully nurtured. This is a solid continuity and in that sense, we can’t be very hopeful. I perceive myself exclusively through a minority position in a society that obviously chooses to go astray and works exclusively for the benefit of its own harm and there, one could argue, not much can be done. The exception to this rule is to persevere devotedly in pursuing one’s cause, to give one’s best in that battle against windmills and to never give up.


DHG Group Receives Prestigious Diplomacy&Commerce Award for Business Improvement

The past year has been intense for DHG Group, focusing on creating high-quality living and business spaces

At a ceremony that highlighted the most successful companies and individuals in business and innovation, the Diplomacy & Commerce awards were presented on Tuesday, April 9, on the magazine’s eighth anniversary, to leaders in various fields for their exceptional contributions. DHG Group, founded and led by visionary entrepreneur Blagoje Antić, was recognized again this year with the „Diplomacy & Commerce Award for Business Enhancement” for its relentless pursuit of excellence and influential presence in the international real estate and construction sectors.

The award ceremony, hosted at the Jugoslovenska Kinoteka in Belgrade, assembled distinguished guests from the realms of business, diplomacy, and politics. Milena Stevović, a Board member, and the director of DHG doo in Belgrade, gracefully accepted the award on behalf of DHG Holding. Her presence highlighted the founders’ profound involvement and unwavering commitment to advancing DHG Group’s legacy and future projects. Princess Jelisaveta Karađorđević presented the award, underscoring the ceremony’s significance.

Following this significant recognition, Milena Stevović, representing DHG Group and leveraging her

extensive experience within the company, shared her reflections on the importance of such awards for DHG Group, highlighted the company’s achievements over the past year, and outlined their strategic vision for the future.

Year of Substantial Achievements

Reflecting on the achievements that led to this recognition, Mrs. Stevović detailed a year marked by significant endeavors: „The past year has been intense for DHG Group, focusing on creating high-quality living and business spaces. We commenced the construction of several residential and business projects in our home market and expanded our international influence with projects in Dubai and Belgrade, including

our flagship Helvetia Residences. This project alone, valued at around $200 million, saw extraordinary demand with 20% of its units sold on the launch day, indicating the high market anticipation and our effective project planning.”

Looking ahead to the end of 2024, Mrs. Stevović outlined ambitious plans for DHG Group’s development: „Our vision for DHG Group by the end of 2024 encompasses expanding our global presence while reinforcing our influence in Switzerland, our local market. We plan further investments in innovative technologies and sustainable practices supporting long-term growth. We aim to set new industry standards, both in Switzerland and in Serbia and the Emirates.”


When asked about the importance of receiving awards like the „Diplomacy&Commerce Award for Business Improvement” Mrs. Stevović expressed that for DHG Group, „Awards and recognitions serve as a confirmation of our continuous effort, diligence, and commitment. They reflect our unwavering dedication to quality and innovation and motivate us to maintain our momentum. These accolades remind us that our work is valued not just within our company but across the broader business community.”

Over the past 30 years under Blagoje Antić’s leadership, DHG Group has accomplished a remarkable track record, delivering over 300 projects, managing over 1000 rental properties in Switzerland, and developing and building 2.5 million square meters of space, with more than 1000 residential units currently in development.

24 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs AWARDS

Professional Journalists are Most Under Attack in Our Society

The government sees us as „political enemies”, which of course we are not, because if we were, then we would not be journalists but politicians
Journalist and Professor

Diplomacy&Commerce magazine fosters a culture of dialogue and advocates freedom of speech and media freedom, which is why in every issue we talk to fellow journalists and media workers who are facing repression. The reason for this interview is the abuse of media space and its use for political calculation, as well as verbal attacks on our colleagues Ana Lalić and Dinko Gruhonjić.

As a journalism professor, how would you explain to your students, our readers, and fellow journalists the current state of the media in Serbia?

Empirical research has shown that the situation in the media is such that professional journalists are the most under attack in our society. There are many reasons for that. First, the government sees us as „political enemies”,

which of course we are not, because if we were, then we would not be journalists but politicians. But, in a society in which most institutions are captured and in which there are honest individuals whose leaders are people who are not benevolent, the professional media are one of the very few addresses that people can turn to to talk about the numerous problems they are facing. However, we cannot be a substitute for institutions.

Second, the political opposition in Serbia is weak because it is constantly exposed to repression by the authorities. But, despite that, for the past 12 years, the opposition has not dared to get seriously

organized and oppose the authorities, to put together infrastructure and work much more in the field. This is a big problem for society because the authorities will usurp social resources depending on how much resistance there is to it in society. Here the resistance is weak, so the usurpation is very strong.

Third, journalism is always and everywhere a figurative thorn in the side, while everything else is public relations, to paraphrase our colleague Orwell. Fourth, we, on the media stage, have been experiencing a tsunami of anti-journalism embodied in the so-called tabloids – be it TV stations, websites or newspapers. They were


assigned the role of a Trojan horse that should expose journalists as ‘liars’ and someone that ‘should not be trusted’. If that happens, it’s a big problem for democracy in every country, because the executive branch of the government has thus removed another unpleasant critic and controller. This doesn’t happen only in Serbia, as the same methods were used and are used by Trump and many other populists, who seem to have bought a global marketing franchise for the dissemination of authoritarianism. We see that our government is also trying to disavow the integrity of the parliament, the independent judiciary, independent regulatory bodies and the media. This opens the door to the usurpation of public space, public interest and public resources.

It is the media that started the witch hunt against you by using

26 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs MEDIA INTERVIEW
Dragan Nikolić

edited footage to provoke a public reaction. How does that example show media abuse in the political struggle?

These are the media in the broadest sense of the word, but journalism has not abided by them for a long time. This is evidenced by all the reports of the Press Council of Serbia, which prove that these media are absolute record-breakers in violating the Code of Journalists of Serbia. And they don’t care about that because why should they care when they are not journalists but propagandists with a fake ID?! They are tools of political propaganda, which unfortunately are often used as tools of war propaganda too. So, first, one invents an enemy that is accused of some kind of forgery, which is very easy with today’s technology. Then that „enemy” is labelled as a „domestic traitor”, „foreign mercenary”, „mujahedin” or „Ustasha”. After that, the lie is repeated as many times as it is enough to be believed by the audience that supports the authorities, i.e. their voters. Then, as it was in my case and I am far from being the only one - the „enemy” is dehumanized. When you dehumanize someone, annihilating them doesn’t pose a problem, literally and figuratively. But then you suffer real consequences for it.

How powerful are the media today and is their power fake, supported by regime privileges, or is it real and based on the society’s apathy and the lack of critical thinking in the public?

The media are powerful. We have watched and are watching two industrial revolutions live before our eyes - first is the Internet revolution and now the artificial intelligence revolution. It is a privilege and a great challenge to live in these times. But both of these have drastically changed the media scene. For example, as the kids would say, I’m a „boomer”, that is, I belong to the older generation that consumes tradition-

al media. Younger people, for the argument’s sake, let’s call them „zoomers”, consume media in a diametrically opposite way and their main sources of informa-

and who are credible sources of information and who are not.

Today, being educated on media literacy is no longer enough, we also need digital literacy education. Only through education it is possible to teach people that, as before, media content should not be taken for granted, but should be consumed with caution. Because too much „fake news” and even more dangerous half-information devoid of context are all around us. The fact that the traditional media business model is undergoing a serious crisis creates an additional problem. This is why traditional media often adapt to social media narratives, to make money on clickability, reach and engagement and those are essentially tabloid and sensationalist narratives because that’s how so-


tion are social media. The power of both Boomer and Zoomer media is huge. Ideally, we live in a world where censorship is not possible. But the problem is that in this endless ocean of information sources, it is very difficult to navigate and distinguish what

cial media algorithms work. Any simplification of serious social problems necessarily leads to antagonism in society.

Do we have media at all today or have we divided the media space into two opposing teams that are anything but independent?

I think that, despite everything, we have enough professional media outlets that work under great pressure, but do not give up. This is best evidenced by the fact that such outlets and journalists come, as I have already mentioned, under the most attacks in our society. I am particularly proud of civil society media and community media, founded by colleagues from the mainstream media who did not want to suffer marketing censorship in commercial media or political censorship in public broadcasting services. They live from their own work, from writing projects and increasingly from the support of a loyal audience. We have an entire army of propaganda media stacked against us that falsely present themselves as having something to do with journalism, but we also get on the nerves of the usurpers of pow-

Dubrovnik 2024 Dinko Gruhonjić and Dragan Bursać

er and public goods. And that’s more than enough!

Are non-regime media independent and if so, how do they manage to survive?

I think I partially answered your question earlier. I can speak on behalf of the media whose work I participate in, namely the VOICE and Autonomija websites based in Novi Sad. I can also speak on behalf of other colleagues from civil society media too. Yes, they are independent. I explained how we in the civil society media survive. I don’t know whether the same is true about commercial media. You would have to ask them.

How dangerous is the current situation that you are in personally and that our society is in too?

For me and my family, this is by far the most dangerous at-

because this is no longer only the Dinko Gruhonjić case. This is also an attack on media freedom and the University’s autonomy. It could be even construed as an attack on women and a case of very present misogyny, as evidenced by the attacks on my colleague Ana Lalić, the president of


tack we have been exposed to because it was ordered by top state officials. Unfortunately, we are used to such attacks, considering that I have been the target of nationalist, chauvinist, far-right, neo-Nazi and fascist attacks for 25 years now. However, this has been the longest, filthiest and most life-threatening campaign against me so far. It is also dangerous for society

the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina, but by the attacks on two female deans from the University of Novi Sad. They have been attacked by the majority of the Senate members, led by the rector.

The attacks on you show that today’s Serbia is very similar to Nazi Germany, Putin’s Russia or a country with the Sharia law. Do

you think that this is an exaggerated impression?

Well, clerofascist methods are always the same. The methods of attack on us are from those corps, there is no doubt about that. On the other hand, historical analogies can be awkward and imprecise. Yes, that may be an exaggeration, but it is better to exaggerate than to wait for complete darkness to descend on the earth.

How can we achieve media freedom in the current position that we are in? Do we have a good future as a society?

Through solidarity, first and foremost. When a professional and independent journalist is attacked, we are all under attack. We all need to take on the subject he or she is writing about and ‘hit’ at the usurpers in the way we know best - by writing and pub-

licly, in as many media outlets as possible. Otherwise, if we behave differently, like isolated islands, it will be easier for them to „strike” us from the back.

If I didn’t believe that this society has a good future, I wouldn’t have been doing everything I am doing. In general, I think that we greatly underestimate the silent majority that exists in society but is not politically articulated due to the opposition’s shortcomings. We also saw how important it was the magnificent journalistic solidarity shown toward Ana Lalić and myself. However, I think that the fact that the academic public woke up and rebelled, even though it seemed that it was steeped in conformity and minding its own business, is a very unpleasant surprise for the government. So far, 740 colleagues from all universities in Serbia have supported the struggle of the Faculty of Philosophy for freedom of speech and university autonomy.

Not to mention colleagues from abroad, Nobel laureates at the International PEN Center and especially students. This will continue growing. You’ll see!

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Dinko Gruhonjić and Ana Lalić Protests, Novi Sad Photo © Dinko Gruhonjić

The Future of Trade Conference

On April 18th, in Belgrade, in front of a full hall on the premises of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the Future of Trade conference was held, which was organized by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Color Media Communications under the auspices of the Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade in the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

Milun Trivunac, the advisor to the president of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce as the host of the conference, greeted those present

models and a greater degree of recycling in the supply chain.

The conference was opened by Tomislav Momirović, Minister of Domestic and Foreign Trade in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, saying that today, during global challenges, we see more than ever how important leadership is, both in the whole society and in trade. Global crises in the last few years have shown us how much the stability of a country’s economy depends on the quality of supply chains in the internal market. Through the joint coordination of

at the beginning with the words that the Chamber of Commerce is always there to be a link between traders, manufacturers, and suppliers to share data and initiatives aimed at consumers.

On an annual basis, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce undertakes a large number of activities to promote the improvement of trade in Serbia, turning to a healthier diet while educating consumers about the products that accompany it, turning to sustainable business

the Government of Serbia, traders, and manufacturers, we ensured supply stability, and the global crisis did not stop either investments or modernization projects in Serbian retail.

Minister Momirović pointed out that three topics will define the re-

The stability of a country’s economy depends on the quality of supply chains

tail industry in the future, namely the use of Big data, and how to live healthier and sustainable businesses. „Through the process of digitization, more and more retailers are using customer data groups, artificial intelligence, and machine learning at the retail level to increase revenue and consumer satisfaction. To use arti-

The opening was followed by a panel discussion „Trade as the backbone of further economic development - What is the future of trade in Serbia?” which was attended by Žarko Malinović, assistant minister, Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade, Slobodan Aćimović, professor at the University of Belgrade - Faculty of Economics and Business, Nikola Cvijanović, Univerexport CEO, Jelena Pavlović, vice president and member of

ficial intelligence in the right way, retailers and manufacturers should continue to share data and work together on initiatives aimed at consumers, and the Ministry of Trade will always be there as a support,” added Minister Momirović.

The audience was addressed by H.E. Pierre Cochard, Ambassador of France to the Republic of Serbia, who emphasized that the trade sector is extremely important for France, and as in Serbia, they are turning to new trends that are increasingly in focus, such as the purchase of organic products of local origin. Then, there is the increasingly important issue of sustainable development and the improvement of e-commerce business conditions, which is becoming more and more important because, in addition to large companies that are just turning to it, new companies are now opening that sell products only via the Internet.


the Executive Board of Delhaize Srbija, and Violeta Kovačević, Mercator-S CEO. The moderator was Irina Vukotić, Prva TV.

Žarko Malinović, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade, stated that trade in Serbia has acquired a completely different dynamic in the last year. As the greatest victory of the ministry, we see the fact that we have become an important partner of the economy and that together with companies we are improving trade in Serbia and giving end consumers greater value, due to which trade becomes the true backbone of the further economic development of Serbia.

At the end of the conference, Dr Snežana Miletić, a professor at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Belgrade, gave a presentation on the topic „Analysis of the socio-economic impact of the largest retail chains on the trade sector and the entire economy of the Republic of Serbia”, where she pointed out that the profitability of retail companies is growing slowly but definitely. In the coming period, further improvement in business conditions is expected.


Difficult times breed good managers. How difficult it is to be a manager in Serbia and what the challenges in managing companies are today, we talked with Jelena Bulatović, the executive director of the Serbian Association of Managers.

What attracted you to management as a profession?

Many years ago, I saw a Genex calendar with a picture of the building where their then-New York office was located. For me, an elementary school student at the time, that picture and the thought of someone working there seemed like the ultimate success. That little thing consciously or subconsciously directed me to enroll first in the School of Economics and then in the Faculty of Economics, all with the desire that if I learned about external trade it would lead me in the direction of an executive position and frequent trips abroad, which

in the 1980s and 1990s was everyone’s wish. I didn’t get to work at the Genex office in New York, but I did get to do that coveted executive job, as it would be more appropriate to say today, a managerial position. Putting those childhood fantasies aside, my real love for management came when I completed management training in my previous job and realized that with good management of people and processes, you can do a lot of good, not only for your organization but beyond it.

How have business conditions changed in Serbia in the last decade?

This was a turbulent decade, in terms of numerous events at the global level. One of the most im-

The Market Changes

Every Day
Through the Responsibility for the Future Initiative, we want to point out to the general public the importance of the responsible role that managers have towards future generations and the living environment.

pressive global phenomena was certainly the coronavirus pandemic, which brought new challenges, but also new ways of doing business. It was a kind of demonstrative exercise of all the knowledge and experience we had acquired and which we put into the function of „surviving” and preserving the business. During the pandemic, we saw how necessary constant education and broadening of horizons are in the management profession. Also, geopolitical events that shook the global market (the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the latest conflict between Israel and Palestine) led to global changes that also affected business in Serbia. The market changes every day and there is a need for new types of energy, new supply chains, new knowledge,

and new angles of seeing the needs of society and how companies can satisfy them. Managers changed accordingly - I think for the better.

What does being a manager mean today? What do you think is the biggest challenge for managers working in Serbia?

Being a manager today still implies being the link between the owner and the employees. What has changed compared to some earlier times and what I like is the new, humane, and emotional component of today’s managers. Good managers and leaders are more aware in terms of empathy, and emotional and social intelligence. They are also more aware of their responsibility towards employees, the company, community, society, and future generations. Managers abroad and here must quickly adapt to changes and acquire new knowledge, understand and use digitization,

30 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs BUSINESS INTERVIEW
by Mijat Kontić
Executive Director of the Serbian Association of Managers Photos © Nebojša Babić

new technologies, and artificial intelligence, invent new solutions and new business models, view their role and purpose globally, be responsible towards the community, society, and the planet and able not only to manage people but also to develop them and truly care for them. The list of requirements is long and expanding along with the changes, so it will be interesting to see in the next 10 years how managers will navigate the world of artificial intelligence and the new way of life and business.

The 17th annual assembly meeting of the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM) recently took place with a record number of members since its establishment. Which successes of SAM would you single out as the most important and why?

I think the first success is that we have survived 18 years, as well as that we have grown both in the number of members, activities, and programmes we implement and that we have developed as

can we do to further empower that individual? That is why the professional development and education of managers and young people is extremely important to us, and many of our activities are dedicated to this. Something we are particularly proud of is launching key events and programmes such as the Managers’ Forum, the SAM Annual Awards, and the SAM Academy, which truly promote our values and mission. SAM Academy is an outstanding educational programme, as our lecturers come from the world of business. These are over 30 leading, renowned managers and entrepreneurs, with domestic and international experience, who manage the most successful companies in Serbia. Lectures are created in line with the latest educational trends in managerial practice. A modern curriculum, with top business lecturers, is what sets SAM Academy apart from similar educational programmes in the market. In the end, we consider it a success that we have a good reputation as an association, and that many look


an organization in every respect. We have gained the trust of over 550 managers and this is a great success that also carries responsibility, but it is also proof that what we do has value and that our activities and programmes are something that the business community needs. We have remained faithful to the goals and purpose set by our founders, which is to constantly work to make Serbia a better place for life and work, not only for us but also for future generations. I believe that one of the successes of SAM is that we gather managers who want to share and give back to society the knowledge they have acquired through SAM and engagement in our Association, develop existing employees, and help create new ones, ready for the future.

What sets SAM apart from similar associations that have companies as their members is the focus on the individual. The question we constantly ask ourselves is what

professional development. Finally, through a special programme that brings together entrepreneurs, our experienced entrepreneurs share their entrepreneurial stories and thus help young entrepreneurs to persevere and develop and not falter in the initial years when their companies are going through growing pains. We believe that sharing experience, learning from other people’s mistakes, and learning from the best business practices is the greatest value that an association of managers can offer to its members and the general business public.

The 2023 SAM Annual Awards ceremony was held late last year. Considering who were the award recipients, what does the future of business in Serbia look like?

up to us because, according to them, we gather the best people that the Serbian economy has.

What kind of support do young managers and entrepreneurs receive from SAM?

Young managers and entrepreneurs can develop themselves through many initiatives and activities we have. First of all, they can get a mentor who works with them throughout the year and helps them develop professionally and personally. There is nothing more valuable than speaking directly with a successful entrepreneur who has grown their company from a small entity to a large business. Or with a manager who is the CEO of a multinational company and who started their career 20 or 30 years ago. This is a huge advantage that our young members have. Also, young members can attend the SAM Academy, which, along with mentoring, is our best programme for

Last year’s winner of the Manager of the Year award stood out, among other things, for introducing a four-day workweek, so maybe he will start a new trend among employers. The theme of the 2023 SAM Gala was responsibility and by that, we meant responsibility in the broadest sense - towards people, the community, the environment, and future generations. We hope that such behaviour will paint the economic stage of Serbia. One example of such responsible behaviour, which was awarded the Special SAM Award for an exceptional personal act, is the establishment of the Palace of Science by Miodrag Kostić. We hope that this extraordinary endeavour will inspire other business people to do similar things.

What are SAM’s plans for 2024?

In 2024, we will continue to focus on the professional development of people. Also, we are planning two Managers’ Forums during which we will cover the topic of the implementation of artificial intelligence in business, as well as the role of people in the AI world. We want to additionally promote our Responsibility for the Future Initiative, which we launched last year and through which we want to point out to the general public the importance of the responsible role of managers towards future generations and the living environment. With this initiative, we appeal to companies to adhere to good business practices, invest in employees, develop good relations with customers, suppliers,

and other partners, as well as to respect all market participants. In the coming period, we would like to expand the Initiative beyond SAM and invite all leading companies in Serbia to accept and sign it. We are also planning a big June Gathering of managers, where we will celebrate the coming of age of SAM, i.e. 18 years of operations, together with our members and partners. Every year, we give away SAM Annual Awards and thus highlight the best and most successful managers and employers, as well as the most responsible companies. We are going to have a lot of activities, many programmes, and nice gatherings and we will do all that with an abundance of positive energy that we get from our members. Their energy, desire, and commitment to change the individual, economy, and society for the better is what motivates and drives us. We hope that new generations, who in 18 years will lead SAM, will be proud of what we have done, created, and changed all these years.


12 APRIL 2024

Residential Tower AFI Home Skyline Ceremonially Opened

New Standards of Exclusive Housing Defined

At the attractive opening event of the prestigious residential tower AFI Home Skyline, which was held on 11 April 202, Belgrade received a new symbol of luxury housing.

The magnificent tower with 27 floors and 147 exclusive apartments that are intended exclusively for rent, represents the ultimate com-

22 APRIL 2024

A Creative Environment

Leads to Business Success

Key Factors for Transforming the Workspace Into an Inspiring Place

In today’s business world, where every step is measured by success, the choice of the right place to locate the office space is a key decision that affects the growth and prosperity of the business. When looking at the various factors that shape that decision, the key characteristics that define a prime office space stand out.

With the aspiration to respond to globally set standards when it comes to business complexes such as those found in the largest European metropolises, AFI City Zmaj represents a domestic response to all challenges when it comes to business complexes. With its modern architectural solutions and diverse content, AFI City Zmaj represents an ambition aimed at meeting the demands of the global market.

bination of urban style and comfort. Every detail inside the tower exudes perfect aesthetics and represents a high level of functionality, offering tenants a unique experience of living “at the top”.

The renovated “Three Keys” park, exclusive restaurants, and cafes show the comprehensive attention of an investor who has proven that he highly values the wishes of future tenants for a comfortable life and cares for the local community. Within the complex, there is a private swimming pool and a luxurious spa and fitness center – Saruna Wellness, which make this space the perfect place for a modern urban resident who, in addition to all the amenities, is also provided with relaxation after a hard day.

There are cafes and restaurants that employees will visit during their breaks, colorful greenery that surrounds the entire complex,

outdoor chess, and many creative corners. The fact that 1 out of 3 employees quit due to boredom will become a thing of the past with the mentioned benefits.

When designing the AFI City Zmaj business park, the investors thought of everything, so they provided a spacious parking lot in the peaceful location of the complex, which is also a key factor. In the first phase of the project, more than 450 parking spaces have been provided, and to provide the best for future employees, AFI City Zmaj will return the average 90 hours per year that employees spend looking for parking, thus using that time to enjoy a peaceful start to the day where the environment is ideal for success.

32 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs
Photos © Saša Knežević

17 APRIL 2024

Huge Success of the Local Animated Series

Serbian Animated Children’s Series

“Om Nom Stories” at Disney+

Disney recently acquired the rights for the international screening of the Serbian animated children’s series “Om Nom Stories” on the Disney+ platform.

The series “Om Nom Stories”, a collaborative project by brilliant professionals from Serbia and the world, working together in a team of animators, directors, and sound designers, has already won the

24 APRIL 2024

The Belodore

The Largest European Niche Perfumery Opened in Belgrade!

The Belodore brand confirmed its position as the largest niche perfume chain in Europe by opening a new flagship perfumery in Belgrade.

Belodore, the leading international chain of niche perfumeries, opened a new flagship perfumery on Monday, April 22, in the Galerija shopping center. The new shop is the largest of its kind in Europe, thus strengthening the brand’s position as a European leader when it comes to niche perfume chains, while a hitherto unseen concept was presented to the Serbian market.

During the opening, 11 new brands were presented for the first time (some of them are Kilian Paris and Frederic Malle) which will be on sale for the first time in Belodore perfumeries, while in addition to

these novelties, the offer includes over 40 exclusive brands, such as Creed, Tiziana Terenzi, Xerjoff, Acqua di Parma, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Elemis and many others. The perfumery contains several spatial units, such as a personalized area for brands, special sections re-

hearts of millions on YouTube, with over 4.1 million subscribers and more than 3.5 billion views. Disney+ marks a new chapter for the 250-episode series, which will be available in 17 languages. This animated show is based on the popular Cut the Rope games.

“Om Nom Stories” was produced by Metaxilasis and their reliable partner Sound Guru Studios from Belgrade, for the British company Zeptolab as the client.

served for perfumes, skincare, home fragrances, a VIP Perfume bar, and a special section called “Recommended by Belodore” where the assortment of domestic producers is highlighted. In this way, Belodore is the only perfumery in Serbia that supports and promotes local brands from the luxury segment.


To Inspire Changes in the Hospitality Industry

By focusing on energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and sustainable sourcing, we aim to integrate sustainability into our business strategy

Zafiris Lampadaridis, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Belgrade, began his career in the construction industry in 1994 and was involved in numerous international projects in the power generation sector in Greece. He has been in the hospitality industry since 1999. He has worked in Roma-

nia, Poland, Greece, and for the past 10 years, has lived and worked in Belgrade. Since April 2021, Zafiris Lampadaridis has

been the General Manager of Hyatt Regency Belgrade. Today, he lives in Serbia’s capital with his family and enjoys sports

and spending time in nature in his free time.

Many companies are embracing „green” practices and finding ways to incorporate sustainability into their core operations. Do you follow these trends, and what are some sustainability practices implemented at the hotel?

34 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs CORPORATE INTERVIEW
ZAFIRIS LAMPADARIDIS General Manager of Hyatt Regency Belgrade

By focusing on energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and sustainable sourcing, we aim to integrate sustainability into our business strategy. This includes implementing LED lighting and optimizing HVAC systems to minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, we encourage sustainability in our supply chain by prioritizing responsible sourcing, avoiding harmful products, and adopting sustainable practices as efficiently as possible. Our goal is to have a supply chain that benefits both the community and the planet.

We have realized our commitment to waste reduction

What are some ways that corporations contribute to biodiversity in urban environments? Do you implement or plan any initiatives in this domain?

Beekeeping in city settings is gaining popularity as a method to support bee populations and establish more sustainable ecosystems within urban areas. To expand biodiversity and subsequently the hotel’s honey production, in 2022, we collaborated with the Belgrade Beekeepers Association to in-

We noticed art displayed in the main lobby of your hotel. Could you tell us more about it?

The art you have noticed is part of the HyArt project. For over a year now, we have been successfully merging the beauty of modern artists’ works from the local art scene with the longstanding tradition of our hotel. With this project, the hotel’s history has gained a completely new dimension and freshness, inviting admiration


For the 28th consecutive year, we are delighted to organize the Traditional Charity Christmas Tree Contest, a charitable holiday event where employees from various companies showcase their creativity. Through this wonderful initiative and collective effort, each year we raise funds donated to charitable causes. Last year, we raised EUR 24,000 for the organization NURDOR, contributing to providing permanent accommodation for children and families receiving cancer treatment.

Due to the hotel’s long-standing tradition, it may often be perceived in the market as an older establishment. Does this pose a challenge in business, and has the hotel’s status and significance

through a partnership with KITRO, a leader in waste management technology from Switzerland. By implementing KITRO’s solutions, the hotel tracks and analyzes food waste data to improve kitchen operations and minimize waste.

We strive to inspire changes in the hospitality industry by setting an example and making sustainability and responsible resource management part of our daily routine.


The beehives we installed on the hotel’s rooftop provide an ideal habitat for bees, allowing them natural development and access to a variety of flowers and plants in urban areas. Our concern for the environment and preservation of biodiversity led us to this decision, aware of the importance of the role bees play in pollinating plants and maintaining ecosystems in urban environments.

from both hotel guests and locals. We strive to uniquely connect with the Belgrade community and appreciate the creativity and authenticity of modern artists, where each month we have the opportunity to discover new art.

You mentioned one of the initiatives through which you demonstrate the importance of humanitarian engagement by example. What is the impact of such projects?

changed during its 33 years of operation?

Over the course of 33 years, we have managed to build recognition and our reputation in the Belgrade market while preserving tradition. Through annual renovations of certain parts of the hotel, we have maintained its distinctive brilliance while retaining the history embedded within its walls. I believe our excellent, longstanding service is precisely what sets us apart from younger competing hotels.

two beehives on the hotel’s rooftop.

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

If the room is stuffy, open the window—even if a fly comes in, it’s still better than suffocating

When China was transitioning from the Mao era to the present era, the legendary statements were those of Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the Communist Party of China, who responded to ‚serious’ questions from Western journalists with Chinese old sayings. It’s time to return to the legacy of comrade Deng.


When journalists once asked Comrade Deng how private, state, societal, shareholder, and other entities fit into „socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Deng calmly replied, „Let a thousand flowers bloom.” On another occasion, when asked if the transition would bring about some negative aspects, he responded, „If the room is stuffy, open the window— even if a fly comes in, it’s still better than suffocating.”

This is precisely why the whole world should focus on Chinese wisdom. Whether expressed by Confucius or the leader of the Communist Party of China, it’s what has made China one of the leading countries in the world over the past 40+ years (and in many areas, the leading one). It’s not just about flexibility and a pursuit of high-tech innovations, but also about the readiness to „let a thousand flowers bloom,” as long as weeds don’t sprout.

And here we come to the fundamental premise that the Western world has lost, once prided upon: the flourishing of a thousand flowers is, in fact, the acceptance of diversity. In today’s world, which is „monolithic” and pos-

es as a „moral giant,” this is considered some sort of „heresy”—if you don’t think like us (whatever we say, no matter how much it changes abruptly in just 5 or 10 years), you’ll be „canceled” and „deplatformed,” and we’ll prevent you from „spreading hate,” while we claim to be „offended.” Cohorts of people have emerged who are just seeking reasons to be offended by someone else’s different opinion or mere existence.


In that sense, it wouldn’t be bad to understand that the whole world is not monolithic, and people don’t hold monolithic views, not even in Orwell’s „1984.” There will always be someone, or some, who

doesn’t think like you. And so, the little anxieties and calls for „universal electrification” of cars by 2030 are somewhat amusing, as we know, firstly, it’s impossible: there are people who don’t have enough electricity even for „ordinary” needs, let alone for EVs (in the so-called Global South); there are people who live in areas where logistically having EVs is not feasible, such as the vast expanses of Australia, Canada, etc. There’s already an established alcohol engine system in Brazil, for example, that no one mentions. There are countries with so much oil and gas that it simply doesn’t pay off for them. New hydrogen engines are being developed. And yet, there are hybrids too. Thus, they become both the best-selling, and EVs will indeed be the future of the world, but in combination with many other „flowers in the garden,” we should focus on other ways of reducing emissions and combating global warming—such as building infrastructure for highspeed trains, trams in cities, and the like. For instance, precisely in the US, this part is progressing the slowest.


The IMF has provided some calculations according to which the EU will have very weak growth, only 0.8% (the Eurozone, to be more precise), while the US will stand at a robust 2.7%, Russia at 3.2%, and the famously „slowing China” (this has been talked about for 10 years already) at 4.6%, which is a dream for most Western countries. The biggest winner in the whole story is - India with 6.8%. If China has been the fastest-growing power in the world over the past 20 years, in the next 20 it will be India. If China branded itself as the „World’s Factory,” India brands itself as the „Friend of the World” - simply put, it has good relations with the West, which, as part of its famous „containment of China,” is shifting production to India, has good relations with Russia

36 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs ANALYSIS
Photos: © Shutterstock READ THIS ON WEB
by Žikica Milošević

and China, with which it is also in BRICS, and promotes the old idea of „Indian peacefulness” as the mantra of a benevolent force. And the return of these two ancient civilizations to the forefront of global development represents an act of „poetic justice.”

Two factors are at play: as once in China, now in India, there is plenty of room for progress: under government programs, clean drinking water is being introduced throughout the country, and soon new tasks for implementation will follow, which will put India in a better position every year. This doesn’t mean that the US will worry about anything - they won’t, and growth there will be quite good, and the US will always be an economic superpower, probably the largest, and competitively capable - their biggest problem lies in ideological divisions that India and especially China don’t have, hence the film „Civil War,” which was impossible to even think of just 10 years ago. Also, India is accustomed to the „growth of a thousand flowers” - despite Partition, it has been the „prey” of numerous powers for centuries, and it has endured, absorbed influences, and transformed into a multinational, multi-confessional, and above all, young (in terms of its population’s age) state.


Other developed countries around the world must seriously consider what their societies will soon look like - with declining birth rates and high living standards, they will have to make compromises. They will either motivate their citizens to have more children, or they will have to accept and assimilate foreigners into their culture and society. In Europe, this is proving difficultthe rise of the right wing even in the Netherlands, traditionally a tolerant country where Sephardic Jews from Portugal hid and where the first immigrants from overseas countries arrived as early as the beginning of the New World, shows that this is a „delicate matter.” It’s not as simple as accepting Ukrainians into Poland or Russians into Serbia.

In the US, although it is, like all former colonies, ultimately an immigrant country, it also has problems. Russia is also a former empire, accustomed to diverse peoples, and during the time of the USSR, this became the norm - the country itself has all kinds of cultures and multiple races, and with every emigration, there is also immigration - news in Uzbekistan reported that in 2023 alone, there were over 500,000 emigrants from Uzbekistan to Russia. Gulf countries have long embraced the „80% foreigners and we don’t mind, because we want progress” method. They understood the „thousand flowers.”

But where is the problem? Countries in the Far East will have to accept this same reality, although they have lived in their fairly

self-sufficient cultures for centuries. China is ultimately a „melting pot,” but all the people here are indigenous. And soon millions of foreigners will be needed in China, as well as in other „Asian tigers” - transitioning from centuries of isolationism to becoming the „Dubai of the East” will not be easy at all. India will not have these problems, nor will Africa, which will take over as the most dynamic region in the world after India. China and its neighbors will eventually have to apply their motto of „a thousand flowers” to a region they may not have expected.


There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Marge Simpson gets


lost in the woods and, in a bout of her obsessive-compulsive disorder of „tidying up” things around her, starts „arranging squirrels” by lining them up in a row on a branch to be „in line.” It was funny for kids, but for those who want to draw a point, even as an adult - squirrels don’t line up. They are beings that have their own will, not yours. The world will be diverse, with many forms of social organization, habits, production systems, and cultures. BRICS+, with its motto of „don’t touch me, I won’t touch you, we’re members together and we push forward” (unspoken) is one of the good examples where the incompatible merges into the future world where a thousand flowers bloom. It’s impossible in a world where cultures have arisen on entirely different foundations (conquistadors discovered that American civilizations knew all about astronomy but hadn’t thought to invent the wheel) to create a uniform system and „cancel” others or force them to behave like you. When Westerners say there’s „not enough democracy” in China, the Chinese respond: there isn’t, because it’s a Greek concept, as its name implies. But on the other hand, there’s not enough wenmin in the West - social harmony where all members of society strive to progress individually and collectively without excessive emphasis and without hurting others.

Therefore, we don’t expect the West to „step down from the throne” and be „defeated” - K-Pop and Chinese bands even look similar to those in the West. Not all of Asia will start dressing in traditional attire again or reject Western innovations - skyscrapers, and shopping centers. In the ideal case, it will be a society where locals dress and behave according to their beliefs, and you with yours... And the West won’t „win” either - because there’s no one to win against. The ideal future won’t be one where Marge „arranges squirrels” in the forest, but more like a cantina on Mos Eisley from Star Wars - many forms of life and aesthetics, cultures and economies, worldviews without „policing.” And for this - everyone will have to make quite an effort.


Bridge Across Continents

Japanese Investment and Business Relations in Serbia

More than nine thousand kilometers distance between Serbia and Japan is the answer why, despite good relations between the two countries, the foreign trade exchange between the two countries was just above 332 million USD last year. However, distance hasn’t prevented Japanese investors from locating their businesses here.

Serbia is among the top European investment destinations for them - after „Japan Tobacco,” companies like „Nidec,” „Yazaki,” and „Toyo Tires” have set foot

in the country. Toyo Tires have even opened their first European manufacturing site in Serbia as further proof of Serbia’s good strategy in attracting investment from the Far East country. These ventures not only bring economic benefits but also foster cultural exchange and technological advancement. As these investments continue to flourish, the business landscape in Serbia transforms, offering new

opportunities for growth and prosperity. With a shared commitment to excellence and innovation, the business relations between Japan and Serbia grow stronger.

Mutsuo Iwai on Japanese Investments: Serbia as a Reliable Partner

Due to the increasing attention directed towards our country,


the Serbia-Japan Business Club was established at the end of last year, bringing together 22 companies representing Japan. Among these are key investors in the Serbian economy such as „Japan Tobacco,” „Nidec,” „Yazaki,” „Toyo Tires,” and others. The club is expected to contribute to deepening economic cooperation between the two countries through the exchange of information, providing Japanese companies operating in Serbia with the opportunity to share their experiences with other potential investors from that country.

38 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs INVESTMENTS

Mutsuo Iwai, the President of the Serbia-Japan Business Club and the Chairperson of the Board of Japan Tobacco, shared with our reporter in Tokyo his perspective on Japan’s burgeoning interest in Serbia’s investment potential. Iwai unveiled investors’ plans for contribution to Serbia’s emerging sectors, particularly in artificial intelligence and green energy.

„Serbia’s allure lies in its stability and strategic position between East and West. The strong relationship between Serbia and

reliability. Serbia’s willingness to support investors through subsidies and incentives, coupled with its pool of highly skilled professionals, further solidifies its position as an attractive destination for Japanese businesses.”

Strengthening Economic Ties: The Role of Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia

With the same goal to bring closer current and new investors, the Japanese Business Alli-

Japan further enhances its appeal to Japanese investors. The business environment is stable and Serbia offers attractive investment opportunities, especially for small and medium enterprises“, said Iwai accentuating bilateral ties that last for 142 years.

Furthermore, Iwai shed light on Japan’s meticulous decisionmaking process, characterized by thoroughness and attention to detail. He stated, „Japanese investors are deliberate in their approach. They meticulously analyze every aspect before making investment decisions.”

Reflecting on Serbia’s reliability as a business partner, Iwai remarked, „The success of Japanese ventures in Serbia serves as a testament to the country’s

ance in Serbia (JBAS) was established in Belgrade seven years ago. JBAS has emerged as a cornerstone in the promotion of economic and cultural relations. With its inception driven by Japanese companies and supported by key stakeholders including the Embassy of Japan in Serbia, JETRO, and JICA, JBAS has rapidly expanded its membership to include 57 companies.

„When Japanese investors come to Serbia, it’s not just about the amount of money they bring, but also the message they send to other investors worldwide”, says Goran Pekez, President of Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia.

One of JBAS’s primary objectives is to fully support the Government of Serbia and the domestic

tial in the East. This is a great opportunity for our country to attract Japanese and other international investors. Japan is third-largest world economy and second-largest foreign investor with a total of $1.94 trillion of stock foreign investments. It would be a great success if we manage to take a small bite of that huge investment cake “, said Pekez.

The excitement surrounding this global event continues to grow, with Serbia emerging as a notable exception among its regional counterparts.

Ambassador of Serbia to Japan, Aleksandra Kovač, revealed to our reporter: „Serbia will be the only country from the region with its own pavilion at


economy in participating and showcasing at Expo Osaka 2025 which will be held from April 3 until October 3, 2025, through the Government’s working group.

“Expo Osaka 2025 presents a historic opportunity for Serbia to showcase its investment poten-

the expo in Osaka. This is an ideal opportunity to promote its potential, as well as itself as the host of the event to come in 2027 when Belgrade will host a specialized exhibition. The idea is to connect the two events, for Serbia to promote its event in Belgrade.”

The newest technology coming soon to Serbia

Japanese companies in Serbia and the region, bring along highly advanced technologies and knowhow, as well as ethical standards. This is significant considering that human resource development, green transition, and investment in value-added technologies are essential for further development in Serbia. One such advanced innovation that JTI will launch in May in Serbia and in June in Montenegro is Ploom X Advanced, a tobacco heating device with unique HeatFlow technology.


From Good Deeds to Great Impact

Belgrade, March 23rd, 2023 – The Trag Foundation has once again shone a spotlight on the champions of giving as it proudly announces the winners of the prestigious VIRTUS Award for Philanthropy for the 17th consecutive year. These exceptional individuals, companies, and enterprises have dedicated themselves to uplifting their communities through generosity, inspiring countless others to follow in their altruistic footsteps.

Distinguished guests, including Mr. John Ginkel, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Serbia, Ms. Plamena Halacheva, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Mr. Dominic Otway, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Serbia, Ms. Gordana Delić, Director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, and the remarkable Ida Prester, singer-songwriter and activist, graced the ceremony, presenting accolades to our deserving winners.

In corporate philanthropy, MK Group from Belgrade stood out, while Homa Fine Dining and Bistrot from Belgrade claimed the spotlight for small and medium-sized enterprises. DP Zaliv d.o.o. from Crvenka was hon-

ored for its exemplary long-term partnership between business and the civil sector. Individual philanthropy saw Miroslav Djordjević from Novi Sad as a beacon of generosity, while Andrea Ćirić from Kraljevo was awarded for her selfless contribution reserved for the youngest philanthropists.

The focus on empowering women and girls was celebrated with

company Vega IT of Novi Sad receiving the Thematic Focus Award for corporate contribution and Jovana Ružičić from Belgrade recognized for her individual contribution to this target group.

Special awards were bestowed upon Miodrag Kostić for endowment development, Slobodan Majstorac for his exceptional


Winners of the 17th VIRTUS Award for Philanthropy by Trag Foundation

humanity, Nina Ninković for her tireless promotion of philanthropy, and Ana Veljković for her contribution to the promotion of female entrepreneurship.

The Diplomacy&Commerce magazine was awarded a certificate of appreciation for its media contribution to the realization of the VIRTUS award for philanthropy for the year 2023.

For 25 remarkable years, the Trag Foundation has championed the spirit of giving, fostering a culture of philanthropy that ignites positive change throughout society. By honoring these exemplary individuals and organizations, the foundation inspires us all to build stronger, more compassionate communities actively. Together, we forge a path towards a fairer and more inclusive society for everyone to thrive.

The VIRTUS Award for 2023 is realized with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the OAK Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

40 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs

Two VIRTUS Awards for Miodrag Kostić and MK Group

MK Group is this year’s winner of this important recognition thanks to the numerous philanthropic activities it carried out last year, among which donations to kindergartens in Serbia and the region stand out

Miodrag Kostić and MK Group are this year’s winners of two prestigious VIRTUS Awards for Philanthropy. The special VIRTUS Award for contribution to the endowment went to Miodrag Kostić, President and Founder of MK Group, within whose endowment the Palace of Science will be opened, the first center for research and popularization of science in Serbia, a bestowment to society worth 25 million euros. Also, the MK Group company was presented with the VIRTUS

Award for Corporate Philanthropy, for humanitarian activities through the socially responsible program „Family Support”, for which a total of one million euros was allocated last year.

„We would like to thank the Trag Foundation and the jury who recognized the desire of Mr. Miodrag Kostić to leave lasting value to

our people. The Endowment will spread the message, especially to young people, that knowledge and humanity are of the greatest value, and that science and charity streamline the society”, said Aleksandra Stojanović, Director of Corporate Affairs of MK Group and member of the Board of Directors of the Miodrag Kostić Endowment, at the awarding ceremony


of the special VIRTUS Award to Miodrag Kostić.

The VIRTUS Award for Corporate Philanthropy is awarded to companies that stand out for a systematic and thoughtful approach to community support, but also show a commitment to participating in activities that have a broad social impact. MK Group is this year’s winner of this important recognition thanks to the numerous philanthropic activities it carried out last year, among which donations to kindergartens in Serbia and the region stand out.

„Last year, we renovated and equipped 20 kindergartens in the Adria region, eight of which are in Serbia, in the local communities where we operate. In total, we donated 680 thousand euros for this purpose. In addition, we allocated 220,000 euros for SOS Children’s Villages, specifically for the Maternity Home in Kraljevo and the Center for Family Empowerment in Raška. Most of the funds are strategically directed to projects of national importance, and this year we continue to connect the region through charity, through a new philanthropic project that we will soon announce „, pointed out Aleksandra Stojanović and added that the MK Group has committed to allocating five million euros for social responsibility over the next five years.

Trag Foundation awarded VIRTUS philanthropy awards for the seventeenth time, with the support of the American Agency for International Development - USAID, the OAK Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This award represents a point of reference for all those who invest in the common wellbeing and is awarded with the aim of promoting and stimulating philanthropy in Serbia.

Aleksandra Stojanović i Aleksandar Kostić VIRTUS nagrade Foto © Ivan Kocic

Unique Contents of the Palace of Science for all Generations

The Miodrag Kostić Endowment brings the largest interactive globe in Europe, a planetarium and an exhibition of over 30 scientific exhibits that will be available to all visitors to the Palace of Science, with special contents intended for children and young people

The Miodrag Kostić Endowment has presented the contents and activities that will take place in the Palace of Science, the largest center for research and popularization of science in the region, which will open its doors to visitors in December this year, according to the plan. At the end of last year, the public was informed on the collaboration with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Belgrade, whose professors and students will have 19 stateof-the-art research centers at their disposal in the Palace of Science, while the contents presented now are intended to popularize science for all generations, with a special focus on children and young people.

The Palace of Science will include a permanent exhibition that will count over 30 educational and in-

teractive exhibits that will explain technology, phenomena in space and nature, as well as the human being. In addition, a part of the space will be reserved for visiting scientific exhibitions, as new and attractive content from various scientific disciplines would be regularly available to visitors.

„A large number of exhibits in the Palace of Science will include, in addition to the mandatory educational component, elements of fun and games, in order to bring technological innovations and scientific


preparing a specially equipped children’s corner, in which contents from the fields of programming, robotics, geology, and art are designed for preschoolers. In its work, the Endowment will pay special attention to elementary school students in order to contribute to the quality of education, awakening curiosity and

42 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs
phenomena closer to the youngest in an interesting way. We are also
Zadužbina Miodraga Kostića Palata nauke Foto © Ivan Kocić

interest in science,” said Nemanja Đorđević, Manager of the Miodrag Kostić Endowment, noting that the entire space of 5,500m2 is designed to offer visitors a unique scientific experiences and exciting demonstrations, with robots, holograms, the application of augmented and virtual reality in exhibition settings.

In the Palace of Science, there will be the largest interactive globe in Europe, with a diameter of 3 meters, on the surface of which more than 500 different projections of the Earth, planets, aircraft trajectories, geological phenomena and climate


changes will be displayed in real time, thanks to the NASA database. Among the attractive contents, the planetarium stands out, a spherical cinema with an area of over 100 m2

the exhibits in the science cafe and bookstore, as well as the restaurant that will be opened on the top floor. The Miodrag Kostić Endowment will also organize workshops, sem-

with 36 seats, in which, in addition to projections on the theme of space, educational films from various scientific fields will be broadcast. Visitors will have a VR escape room at their disposal, while they will be able to find a break while visiting

inars and scientific lectures in its multifunctional hall.

„Support for science and education motivated the President and Founder of MK Group, Miodrag Kostić, to donate 25 million euros to the Palace

restoration and conservation works were carried out in cooperation with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Belgrade, in order to preserve the architectural and artistic value of the building, which this year marks the 100th anniversary of its construction.

„I am pleased that the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Belgrade is part of a project such as the Palace of Science. Its opening will take us far into the future, and the Miodrag Kostić Endowment is a

of Science through his Endowment and leave lasting value to current and future generations, believing that knowledge is the greatest value and something that drives society forward. This space will enable young scientists to work in top conditions and push the boundaries in scientific research, but it will also open its doors to everyone, in a mission to bring scientific discoveries closer to their application in everyday life,” said Aleksandra Stojanović, Member of the Board of Directors of the Miodrag Kostić Endowment.

The magnificent building on the corner of Kralja Milana and Kneza Miloša streets, which will house the Palace of Science, will reveal its renovated facade these days. The

real example of how to protect a cultural monument and how to approach the preservation of objects of exceptional architectural beauty and cultural value. There are rare buildings in Belgrade architecture with such rich facade decoration”, said Olivera Vučković, Director of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Belgrade.

After a century, the Miodrag Kostić Endowment will breathe new life into the building at 11 Kralja Milana St., which was home to various banks, and now in the service of science and society, in the mission of development and exchange of knowledge that pushes boundaries.


The List: People who are changing Belgrade



In Belgrade, every street and every individual carries a unique tale, shaping the city’s vibrant soul. Over its rich history, the inhabitants of Belgrade have imprinted their essence, molding its landscape, architecture, culinary scene, and customs. Yet, wielding influence isn’t a walk in the park—it demands a distinctive flair and the ability to captivate attention amidst the hustle and bustle. Join us as we delve into the lives of remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on Belgrade, spotlighted in Duška Jovanić’s monthly column.


Her Belgrade now resides at Njegoševa 73. It’s not the most beautiful street, nor the historically or culturally most significant, yet with its peculiarities, it skillfully touches upon all the colors life is woven from.

In this palette lies „Kirka,” a literary salon founded at the mentioned address by Dragana Poljak, thus restoring the old splendor to the Vračar urban fresco.

Dragana’s earliest memory of urban Belgrade is tied to the building where Miloš Crnjanski lived, as well as her grandparents, so she was practically born in Maršala Tolbuhina 81 (now Makenzijeva).

„There, I first heard the hum of trolleybuses, smelled the scent of ‚ćevapi’ from the famous tavern Orač, and saw writers and actors sitting and conversing. From my grandfather, a literature professor, I inherited a passion for books.” This love affair of hers has lasted a lifetime, despite her pursuits in law and consulting.

Two years ago, she fulfilled her dream and returned Belgrade to where it belonged: an important place on the literary encounters map. She believed people longed for conversations, even though it seemed we were never further from them. It turned out she was right: Belgraders and their guests come to „Kirka” to see and hear their favorite artists not just in written words, but in life.

The climb is a given. „You must love literature and culture and climb to the third floor to that small salon - bookstore. No one comes here by chance, and the old ‚guard’ doesn’t complain either.”

What else to say: finally, Belgrade is no longer just the city with the best nightlife in this part of the world. Thanks to Dragana Poljak and her „Kirka,” it increasingly resembles the former Paris, where you can still experience magical moments.

This beauty now, in her free time, flirts with the Alps, rides her mountain bike, swims in the Aare River, or strolls through Montreux. If this story had remained in the first sentence, there would be no place for it on this list. Because, in every sense, Irena Vladimirova is a golden girl. And she’s not like other girls, because the world is full of other equally beautiful girls.

She’s a perfect ten, both in her achievements and in life. That’s why she hardly has any free time.

Dedicated to her demanding profession (she specializes in specific methods of treating chronic depression and psychiatry in gynecology), she’s mostly in work attire, attending professional lectures or on duty, which in the digital world fits into just one hashtag: #lovemyjob.

It all started in her beloved Belgrade. Growing up in a family where work was the most precious natural gift, as a medical student, she worked as a nanny and met many dear people. Her next stop was Bern, where she specialized in psychiatry and psychotherapy at the university clinic. However, the most important thing in that whole experience is that her role model, Professor Vladeta Jerotić, was also perfecting himself in that Swiss city.

She carried the defiant spirit of Belgrade with her so that one day she could return to it forever. In the meantime, she regularly visits and, besides chocolate and cheese, brings a little bit of Bern’s serenity, repaying it with her mom’s pie. „Belgrade, leave my regards until the next comparison of who has ‚grown’ more” is what matters most to Irena.

44 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs COLUMN
The List is in alphabetical order
© Goran Popovski POLJAK Book lover
2 © Ivana Todorovic © Nebojsa Babic Volume 13 by Duška Jovanić

Vintage, my love – a mantra adopted and embraced by environmentally conscious women. Okay, we know that we’ve been dwelling in the hellish pace of the show-up life for a long time, where not only more is more, but it becomes too much! Who hasn’t had their dresses hanging on walls instead of paintings, shoes becoming literal sculptures, and bags threatening to kill us with both price and number?

Nobody says we should give up all of that, but let’s use our heads and head to the attic. It’s about an unusual „shop of designer clothes, shoes, and other little things you once loved or outgrew” – as Natasha Lizdek, the brainchild behind the whole idea along with her business partner Vanja, declares on their Instagram account @such_a_tavan, seeing it as a true fashion currency.


Cane Partibrejker

His stage name, which would honestly suit a dude jamming on the accordion better than a rocker, has been his hustle for a minute. He grew up in the hood of New Belgrade blocks, which shaped him. Everything was chill until rock ‚n’ roll became the vibe to forget all the BS life throws at us. No one knows why he fronted all his life, acting tough, rude, and not giving a damn, like he was too cool to be polite and nice, which he totally is deep down. I got receipts to prove it. But even on Google, his rants trend before his tracks. „Clowning” on the crowd is internet-famous. I even tried to dig deep, peeping why he’s got some people vibing with him while others wanna throw hands. Why are folks so hyped about a dude named Zoran Kostić? Sometimes, even the

„Turning to fashion, while Belgrade has a rich history and a flair for style, the opening of our luxury consignment shop five years ago introduced a new dimension to the city’s fashion scene. Our venture aimed not only to conduct business but also to challenge perceptions and foster an appreciation for curated pieces and sophistication. Over time our shop evolved into a vibrant meeting place for fashion enthusiasts, offering a space to connect, share stories, and discover unique items with their narratives”. By the way, Natasha was born in Sarajevo and holds a degree in product design, Belgrade wasn’t a planned destination for her, but it was, let’s say, the twist of fate. Belgrade became her second home, charming her with its warmth and cosmopolitan charm. In the end, she set upstairs for it to climb to the top of fashion culture.



His profession is more professionally and modernly called a food blogger, but his nickname, Paqito, gives him away at first bite. I remember when I first discovered this brilliant new profession. It was a long time ago: an American yuppie coldly left a well-paying job to dedicate himself to writing about food. Score: he continued to indulge in dishes around the world as if he were a billionaire. Pavle Branković doesn’t have quite that biography, but he knows how to engage his gourmet mind. So far, he’s doing great, especially since he’s chosen the good side: he never „spits” in the workplace. He treats Belgrade in the same way. „Thank God, it’s alive and well with all its imperfections. I don’t focus on the bad moments, just as I’m not interested in dealing with bad food. From a gastronomic point of view, Belgrade is at a very high level. We just need Michelin to confirm it,

so our chefs can finally breathe a sigh of relief.” It’s really about time for that famous „star” to fall on Belgrade, which we’ve been waiting and dreaming about for so long. Not that all the conditions haven’t been met, although we haven’t exactly shown our best on our home turf.

„Elevating international cuisines to enviable heights has resulted in neglecting the national one, which seems to have slept through some past times,” says Paquito, whose visit restaurant owners welcome, but with reservations. Dishes he praises, guests order blindly, even when the timing isn’t right. What are the other consequences of his past work? „If until recently, only guests knew the menus of taverns, the service, and the chefs, now hundreds of thousands of people know them.”

Isn’t it just a little bit against the centuries-old Serbian fear of hunger!?

crowd ain’t safe. So why did I put him on blast?

Even though he’s been in the game forever, he still rides the high of the moment, respected by those who’ve been through it, challenged by those who don’t know jack. He’s got comebacks for days, especially when defending his tracks, ‚cause Cane ain’t one to back down. I tried to call him out once, acting like I switched him out with someone else. But it was crystal clear he’ll always play the tough guy, so no one messes with him. Would we miss him if he dipped? Hell yeah. Belgrade knows what’s up. Because all Canet Partibrejker needs is a shoutout. He’s the king of wordplay. Even the publisher of his poetry collection will tell you that.

45 © private archive
© Nebojsa Babic
Business fashionista 3
© Nebojša Babić

Victorian Craze of Valentina and Florijan

The golden age of taxidermy occurred during the Victorian era when stuffed animals became a popular part of interior design and decoration, hence dubbed the ‘Victorian craze’

When an animal dies in the Belgrade Zoo, Lake Palić Zoo, or any national park, the authorities are required by the provisions of the Law on Nature Protection to inform the Natural History Museum in Belgrade. Then, taxidermists come into play, of which there are only a few in Serbia, and we visited two who are considered the best among them - Florijan Horvat from Subotica and Valentina Nemet from Bačka Topola.

As life is unpredictable - your parents give you the „botanical” name Florijan, but you decide to pursue the preparation of animals. I contemplate this while Slavko Spasić, the director of the Natural History Museum in Belgrade, drives me towards the home of one of our

most skilled taxidermists. The word „taxidermy” has roots in ancient Greek and translates to „arranging skin”.

Fans of European cinema have surely heard of the movie „Taxidermia”, a highly unusual and multi-award-winning work by Hungarian director György Pálfi from 2006. „Taxidermia” is a grotesque genre fusion of drama, horror, and comedy about three different stories and three different generations, set in a bizarre and shocking universe. Grandfather, father, and son are a hospital attendant, a top athlete, and a taxidermist, all three with different ambitions - one seeks love, the other fame, and the third immortality. The film won numerous awards at European festivals, especially in categories for young authors.

We arrive at Florijan Horvat’s house located at the edge of the

city, on the outskirts of sand dunes and forests. Little Aniko, Florijan’s daughter, welcomes us in front of the wooden gate and greets us in Hungarian. In the tree canopy in the yard, I spot a „playhouse”. A large German Shepherd seems peaceful, yet we await the homeowner to lead us into the yard. We enter Florijan’s workshop: „The wallaby is finished, you can take it to Belgrade!”, our host shows Slavko the prepared little white wallaby kangaroo, originally from New Guinea, which recently died at the Belgrade Zoo.

Namely, when an animal dies in the Belgrade Zoo, Lake Palić Zoo, or any of the national parks - the authorities are required by the provisions of the Law on Nature Protection to inform the Natural History Museum in Belgrade. The museum then decides whether the deceased animal undergoes taxidermy, after which it becomes one of the exhibits, or is cremated


in a standard crematorium procedure. There is also a third possibility - „skeletonization”, namely the separation and cleaning of the animal’s skeleton, which also becomes a museum exhibit. This happened last summer when Tvigi, an elephant, died in the Belgrade Zoo at the age of 58. Her body was handed over to the Veterinary Institute for autopsy (necropsy), after which, due to high temperatures and the large size of the deceased animal, it was decided at the Natural History Museum that conditions for taxidermy were not met. Experts from Kragujevac then came to separate the bones of the elephant from the rest of the body, clean them, preserve them, and they will be connected with wires

46 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs OLD CRAFTS
Photo © Dayrolle Facebook

and armatures to form one of the exhibits in the future new building of the Natural History Museum, which, as promised by the authorities, should be completed for the opening of the Expo 2027 event.

masters buy „forms” in Austriathese are „bodies” for stuffed animals made of materials similar to polyurethane foam, in three sizes - L, XL, and XXL, and in several different „poses”.


In addition to a small gallery on Kalemegdan, where very interesting exhibitions are often organized, the Natural History Museum in Belgrade does not have its own proper exhibition space where visitors can see the real treasures stored in its depots. Several times I had the opportunity to visit the treasures hidden in the depots of the Natural History Museum, and this institution needs adequate space.

During a recent visit, I saw a kiwi bird from New Zealand, donated by a professor in 1934, a caiman stolen from the Belgrade Zoo and found by the police, stuffed and returned to Vuk Bojović, who then gave it to the museum because „they don’t keep stuffed animals”; I saw hundreds of skulls of steppe bison from the Ice Age, which a digger from the vicinity of Smederevo sold to the museum; mammoth jaws and a flamingo shot by King Alexander in Obedska bara in 1925.

While eating excellent pastries made by the host’s wife, I listen to stories about this unusual skill that Florijan learned from Janoš Greguš from Palić, an old master of this craft.

In the past, stuffed animals were filled with straw, but today these procedures are technologically advanced - modern materials and chemicals are used. Taxidermy

Florijan worked for years at the National Museum in Subotica, where he created one of the best natural history collections in the country.

As we say goodbye, he tells us about the real war that took place in the forests around his house until a few months ago. It is, of course, about the conflicts between Afghan and Syrian migrants, in which there were many more casualties than officials reported through the media. The forest was full of the corpses of migrants eaten by wild animals. After the last major „cleanup” by the Serbian police - the Balkan migrant route was almost completely redirected towards Bosnia.

With the prepared wallaby in the

trunk, we head towards Bačka Topola, where Valentina Nemet awaits us in Josip Kraš Street, at the „Karakal Taxidermy” studio. She is a young, delicate woman whom few would think engages in such an unusual and difficult craft.

„I don’t do fish! I know how to do fish, but I don’t do them!” says Valentina, who specializes in mammals. Besides the animals she receives for preparation from the Natural History Museum, Valentina, like other taxidermists, works a lot with hunting trophies.

„When an animal is shot in Africa, for example, locals specialized in it - take the meat for consumption, and carefully skin the animal. The skin is then salted and sent in containers to Europe. Such skins arrive to me...”

On the wall of Valentina’s workshop, there are many diplomas

from European and world taxidermy competitions. European championships are mostly held in Austria and world championships in the USA. This year’s World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championship will be held from August 6 to 10 in Coralville, Iowa.

Valentina tells us how there are more and more „repairs”. Like cosmetic surgeons who fix the „works” of their less skilled or less conscientious colleagues -, Valentina often „patches up” poorly done stuffed animals.

In Serbia, by the Regulation on Determining Crafts Considered Old and Artistic („Službeni Glasnik of RS”, No. 56/2012), the preparation and stuffing of birds and animals are classified as old crafts.

In addition to Florijan and Valentina, there are several studios and companies in Serbia that deal with the preparation of animals and birds. Dejan Marić from Užice has been in this business since he was 15 years old. Dragan MilosavljevićMalac from Drenovac near Paraćin has been preparing animals for 45 years, and so far, about 15,000 specimens have passed through his hands. This man from Drenovac prepares from 300 to 500 animals annually, and he is particularly skilled when it comes to fish: „I am currently processing the complete fish world of Serbian rivers for the Museum of Ichthyology, being established at one of the faculties in Kragujevac. Part of it has been completed, and the professors took about fifteen species of fish, and I will work on more barbel, chub, grayling... Fish, by the way, are difficult to prepare, and the hardest part is to peel off the skin without removing the color!”, says Malac from Drenovac.


The Novak Restaurant is located near the Belgrade Arena and the highway, in the modern new part of Belgrade. Right at the entrance, you’ll be greeted by him! A life-size sculpture of Novak Djokovic. The sculpture depicts Novak as a terracotta warrior and was made in 2007 when the ATP surprised tennis fans by commissioning terracotta statues of the world’s top tennis players for the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The interior is designed with special care, creating a pleasant ambiance that is both modern and comfortable.

Food With the Taste of Victory

Our culinary masters create art from every plate, combining traditional recipes with a modern approach

This is a place where food is the absolute hero, and that is evident from the first glance at the menu. While you wait for your favorite dish, you’ll feel like you’re at a Grand Slam watching a live match. Pictures from various competitions, tennis balls, and many other winning motifs... when you look at them, you’ll feel what Novak feels on the court: good energy, success, and victory!

When it comes to food and drinks at the Novak restaurant, the offer is just like his career – great. Our culinary masters create art from every plate, combining traditional recipes with a modern approach. All ingredients are carefully selected and everything is prepared

curry, or American hamburgers, the restaurant has it all and much more.

Furthermore, for vegans and individuals with specific dietary needs, the restaurant is dedicated to providing an extraordinary experience and delicious food. With a variety of vegan dishes on the menu, guests can rest assured they will receive a specially crafted meal that meets their needs.

VIP Lounge

Specially designed, the VIP Lounge is ideal for hosting smaller private lunches or dinners. It is conceived to provide guests with an exclusive experience to enjoy in an intimate atmosphere without disruptions.


in our restaurant. We can’t fail to mention our healthy homemade bread without additives and preservatives that melt in your mouth.

If you love to experiment with flavors from around the world, our restaurant also offers international specialties that will satisfy even the most discerning gourmets. Whether you want to enjoy the flavors of Italian pasta, Asian

Elegant design, comfortable furniture, and discreet ambient lighting will meet the needs of even the most demanding guests. Our professional team of waiters and culinary masters is dedicated to ensuring that every lunch or dinner in the VIP room is a unique experience for our guests. The rich wine list contains a wide selection of premium wines that will complement the gastronomic experience. Guests in the VIP room can fully

enjoy their company without interference or the presence of other guests, making it ideal for business lunches or meetings where a quiet atmosphere is needed for smart business decisions.


Catering is our passion and the pinnacle of experience we have gathered over the past decades, and it’s what makes our service unique. Allow us to impress you. We invite you to try our phenomenal culinary magic in the comfort of your home. If you’re ready to indulge in the finest flavors and make your event something special, contact us today and reserve our phenomenal catering!

48 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs
Call Novak Restaurant at +381 11 62 790 799 or email us at info@novak1.rs to
or inquire about all the details.

When Do Industry, Vojvodina Fields, and Sports Unite?

We are located in the industrial zone in Pančevo, in one of the five largest family-owned automotive suppliers in the world, but not because of the story of the production or development of products for different types of vehicles, but because of the duathlon organized for the 9th time in Pančevo! How does this location relate to this sport? I discussed it with five people from different organizations

„It all started when our director of logistics, who is a lover of running, came up with the idea that we have a running club in our company. Since its arrival on the Serbian market, Brose has had a running club run by the mentioned colleague, through which they promote health, sport, and good habits. These days, it is not enough to just have the benefits that companies offer, but something additional, which brings people closer together. In addition to promoting sports and activities for employees, the company actively helps the local community through various sponsorships, donations, and humanitarian activities. Last year, we got the opportunity to be sponsors and co-organizers for the Pančevo duathlon organized

by TK Tamiš. Everything we do has merged into one - sports, our helping the community, as well as promoting our industrial zone, which is completely clean and an excellent location for organizing such a sports event,” said Igor Zelenović, corporate communication specialist.

Why does Brose invest in sports?

„The company on a global level helps the community through 4 areas: education, culture, socially

responsible business, and sports.

The situation is the same at the local level: we are partners of all major technical faculties in the country, with whom we cooperate through various types of activities. For 4 years in a row, we have been general sponsors of the Pančevo Cultural Center. We have organized many humanitarian activities, and we are donors to various organizations in the country. When it comes to sports, we know that success in sports requires commitment, discipline, passion,

and team spirit. We can fully identify with these qualities because, at the end of the day, we also want to attract the best to our team and inspire them to join our company. We promote enthusiasm for top sports and help different sports on a global level, and in Pančevo one of the sports is duathlon”. - said Igor Zelenović, a specialist in corporate communication.

Igor, as the ambassador of running in your company, you decided to participate in the duathlon, so tell us where this love for running comes from and your desire to extend it to the duathlon as well.

When Jan Bulik - a Yugoslav national team player, born in Vojvodina, trained for the 1924 Olympic Games held in Paris, people were skeptical of him, wondering if he was crazy for running when no one was chasing him (saying that he must be a fool because he runs without any goal). Nowadays, more and more people run for pleasure, simply for the pleasure of movement, and many do sports because they invest in their mental and physical health.

Vojvodina, the home of endless flat fields, bathed in the Serbian sun, has recently also been the home of industry. The decision to merge partners from the industry, represented by Brose and the Triathlon Club Tamiš, with the support of other partners, under the technical supervision of the Serbian Triathlon (Triathlon of the Union of Serbia) and the creation of a unique sports event in the northern industrial zone of Pancevo builds on the long-standing tradition of Pancevo Duathlon. Flat tracks are what make this event unique and provide athletes with the opportunity to support themselves to achieve excellent performance results.

Why did you pick TK Tamiš as your partner?

As one of the main purposes of our running club is to support the lo-

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cal community, we have merged with TK Tamiš, which is the best triathlon organization in Serbia.

Why do our interlocutors and namesakes from Brose say that you are the best in Serbia?

TK Tamiš, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, belongs to the top of the Serbian triathlon according to several different parameters: according to tradition, achieved results, mass, etc. Perhaps I would single out the friendly atmosphere and collective spirit in the club, which make it easier to train in such a demanding sport and which led to the creation of sincere friendships.

Why did you choose the industrial zone as the venue for the Pančevo Duathlon?

The idea came from pragmatic reasons, such as a high-quality road, large flat areas ideal for the organization of the race, safety, the existence of a parking lot, etc. We also have in mind the promotion of companies in the Northern Industrial Zone, which can help us in organizing the event as well as a larger number of participants.

Our great desire is to promote an industry that is clean and sustain-

able. An industry that contributes to the preservation of the environment and a healthy living environment. Based on all of the above, the Brose company was an ideal choice for a partner. Fortunately

there is a group of people who participate in the organization of the event and with whom we have great cooperation.

Duathlon sounds like it’s very demanding and only meant for professional athletes. Do those who want to try this sport, but are not in enviable physical condition, also have the opportunity?


for us, the Brose company decided to support us and help organize the sports event. I want to emphasize that the Brose company is not only a declarative partner, but that

The first reaction of people who have not tried duathlon is that it is a very difficult sport that requires hours and hours of practice. Duathlon is, for many reasons, an accessible sport for people of different fitness levels and ages. Competitors who train regularly can do the race at a very high intensity. On the other hand, those who are not in enviable physical condition can do the race more easily according to their abilities. According to your level of readiness and experience, you can choose the length of the race that suits you. It is also possible to do a relay race in which two team members participate, one for running and one for cycling. In any case, we invite all people, who love sports, to come to the event either as competitors or as spectators.

What would you say is the greatest achievement of TK Tamiš?

In the first 30 years of its existence, over 1000 members passed through the club. Some top competitors achieved significant sports results at domestic and

international competitions, and there were also less successful ones who achieved noteworthy achievements in terms of human and other qualities. Times are changing, and so are the goals of the people who are in the club. I would stay in the present time and the challenges that are currently in front of us. In this sense, the most important thing for us is to reach young people and get them interested in sports. To attract them to come to train, to spend quality time, to experience the positive impact of sports on everyday life, and to achieve sports goals. For us, every child whom we have taught to swim, who we have instilled healthy habits in, who has accepted the right values , and who is ready to fight for himself and the people around him, is a great success.

Employees don’t just run because they like to run and to promote a healthy lifestyle, but also because of a higher goal.

That is perhaps the most beautiful part of our running club in Brose. Our company donates money for every kilometer traveled by each employee who is part of the Brose Run team, with which we help someone from the local community at the end of the year. We make sure that it is always someone who is connected to our employees, as an additional form of employee care. Thus, in the first year, we helped little Kristijan to operate on the deformity of his hand, while last year we helped little Teodora to start treatment abroad. Also, with this money, we bought books for all the thirdgrade students of Jovan Jovanović Zmaj Primary School from Pančevo. The employees recognized this excellent initiative of the company, so the number of employees who are part of the running club is increasing, and the number of kilometers traveled is also increasing! - said Igor Rod, president of the Brose Run team and Director of Logistics at the Brose company.


Pančevo Severna industrijska zona –Brose parking

Sunday 12 May 2024 from 8 AM until 2 PM


Commitment to Activism and Education

as a Way of Life

We spoke with Vanja Petković, the president of the citizens’ association Čepom do Osmeha (From Bottle Cap to Smile) and a doctorand student in environmental protection, about the biggest volunteer campaign in Serbia and people’s environmental awareness.

Where did the motivation to start and then promote the bottle cap collection campaign come from?

As a student of environmental sciences, I travelled around Europe and saw a similar campaign in Slovenia.

Considering during my high school and university studies I was the initiator of charity activities, I decided to immediately join the campaign. The beginnings were amateurish. I sent bottle caps by bus to Slovenia. Relatively quickly, a large number of individuals supported the idea and the quantities of collected bottle caps could no longer fit in shopping bags. Given that this idea was disseminated with the support of my family, that is my husband, we launched a campaign in Serbia. To date, this has been the biggest, longterm volunteer campaign in Serbia. So far, thanks to 1,400,000kg of collected plastic bottle caps, we have provided 85 aids for children with disabilities. We also made the largest bottle caps mosaic, breaking the world record.

Is activism often an underestimated category?

Without activism, society can hardly persevere in real changes in the

community. Today, my initiative gathers over 7,000 active volunteers, has 10,000 boxes for collecting bottle caps, and 25 active coordinators who, thanks to their goodwill and without monetary compensation, contribute to the campaign developing and lasting for this long.

Their enthusiasm and drive are a great incentive and they are the initiators of changes in their environment. We are proud of our achievements so far, which include inclusive children’s playgrounds and environmentally friendly islands. We have been

(training sessions, workshops) a way to change awareness of the importance of the environment and its protection?

As a mother of three children, I believe that children and young people are our main driving force. We conducted more than 100 workshops, with over 100,000 children participating. We teach our youngest that change lies in individuals and that their activities can directly improve the state of the environment.

I am a pediatric nurse and an ecol-

given numerous awards and recognitions. But the best thing is that people from vulnerable categories are provided for and allowed to contribute to the community and be included in society. Is formal and informal education

ogist with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in environmental protection, and a doctorate in environmental protection.

The topic of my doctoral dissertation deals with the development of social entrepreneurship in environ-

Without activism, society can hardly persevere in real changes in the community

mental protection, which requires the co-mentorship of two different faculties, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Science and Mathematics.

We have recently established the Academic Centre for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development (ACZOR), which is a result of many years of work in the Čepom do Osmeha Association.

ACZOR is not only a place of learning, but also an incubator for innovation, where young enthusiasts, activists, and scientists develop ideas that will shape the world. Here, knowledge and action, theory and practice, education and engagement intertwine. In the Centre, we are determined to bridge the gap between academia and decision-makers, connecting the education system with the real needs of society and the economy.

What are the challenges facing Serbia regarding the environment and ecology? How can we overcome these challenges?

We must be aware that changes in the environment cannot be done overnight, and that it is important to lay a good foundation and conduct analyses, impact assessments, and studies to adequately approach the problems. Recently, efforts have been made to improve and resolve problems, however, we must take continuous action, including additional measures, incentives, and penalties for inadequate behaviour, both by companies and individuals, as well as invest more in the education of people. Also, to replace modern technologies with those that have reduced or no negative impact on the environment.


The key lies in dialogue, which is the foundation for improving environmental protection. Through the open exchange of ideas and opinions, we can identify problems, develop an effective strategy, and mobilize the community to action. Only with the joint effort and engagement of all stakeholders can we achieve real changes and save our planet for future generations.

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VANJA PETKOVIĆ President of the citizens’ association Čepom do Osmeha

When he finally let me into his world last autumn, I counted on his ‚Neretva’ to be my best ticket, even though a cliché, still the best entrance.

„Do you feel like a participant and witness of that great battle?” I asked the champion in the heavyweight (film) category. Although, I had to challenge him a bit in the

ring of his living room. „You, in a way, directed the replay, while the invincible general Peko Dapčević commanded the operations at the premiere.”

His answers were as decisive as a trigger, even when it was clear he was bluffing masterfully. Perhaps that famous ‚Battle of Neretva’, the supreme partisan cowboy movie and one of the best war films in

Veljko Bulajić 1928 – 2024

My Neretva Triumphed With Its Own Truth

world cinematography, was indeed the peak, but paradoxically, also the end of his career, through which he traveled ‚Train Without a Timetable’. He never stopped filming, as if nothing else in life mattered. Although there was a real danger of slipping into pathos and propaganda, Veljko Bulajić skillfully maneuvered through emotion even then.

„I went for the ordinary man, the fighter, the wounded so that the film would be as real and accurate as possible. So it wouldn’t be some fake bait for the audience based on spectacle. That experience of a real story is unusually important in every film. My Neretva triumphed with its own truth.”

It seemed that at that moment, Bulajić had everything: a good script, big movie stars, and huge money. He got serious ‚snouts’ with charm, and even impressed Picasso, but Tito’s associates were, to say the least, unhappy that in that anthology of partisan melodramas, there was no trace of Tito.

He had to report to the marshal. On the way to his office, he decided not to give in, even if it meant forever closing the doors of his dream. Tito drank a little whiskey and agreed with Veljko’s initial idea. It was clear that everything would end in the best possible way. Except that

he never shook off the shadow of being Tito’s favorite and the state director.

„I never hid that I was a regime director, backed by Tito himself. I was privileged and I’m proud of it because I brought prestige and money to Yugoslavia and my people.”

At that time, only Pablo Picasso could have clouded his fame. He calmed him down with boxes of the best Yugoslav wines, among which was a bottle of the famous Montenegrin ‚Vranac’.

The devil wouldn’t leave me alone, so I tried to figure out if the poster hanging on the wall was original or just a top-notch copy. Either way, that little masterpiece wasn’t enough for an Oscar, but it was for Hollywood, which Bulajić didn’t go to. He argued he wasn’t part of that story, although, during his studies in Italy, he apprenticed with Visconti, De Sica, and Fellini, whom we could gossip about together.

Despite that, he could sometimes be difficult, although he would soon return to a calmer, fatherly tone. In the end, he opened a bottle of homemade herbal brandy to tell me all about his latest film. It was about love. Although I tried all the time to pull him out of his rigid frame, I knew he would leave as the great Veljko.

Photo © Vuk Dapčević


10 – 14 MAY


The tenth jubilee edition of the Days of Slovenian Film event will be held from May 10 to 14 in the Yugoslav Cinematheque and will present a retrospective of selected films by Slovenian authors, guests, and participants from its inception in 2015 until today. The organizers of the Days of Slovenian Film Review are the Society of Slovenians „Sava” in Belgrade, with the patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Belgrade and the partner support of the Yugoslav Cinematheque, the Film Center of Slovenia and the Film Center of Serbia.




10-11 MAY


The World premiere of the ballet performance by Berlin Ballet Company with the best European dancers and Marko Nastić will be held at Dorcol Platz on May 10 and 11. The new show connects renowned artists from Berlin and Belgrade, and through the creative process connects the two cities. The Berlin Ballet Company promises that their performance at Dorcol Platz will be unforgettable and will give the audience something to carry with them long after the curtains come down.

On 24 May, at the Ušće Park, Rammstein will once again perform and entertain the crowds with their unique music and impressive scenery. Just in time for the band’s 30th anniversary, fans old and new will have the chance to experience a big show and hear a set list that includes all of the band’s greatest hits. Rammstein is a German band formed in 1994. They are the most famous representatives of the musical direction called industrial metal in the world, and also probably the most famous German band today.

54 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs CULTURE NEWS
Photo © Shutterstock

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