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Austria 2018



Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Austria


Director of the Centre for Education, Dual Education and Education Policies at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce




If the idea of Aurel Popovici, SerbianRomanian politician in 1906 came to life, the “European Union” called “United States of Greater Austria” would be formed, with national member states – the Serb one was called Vojvodina.

TRACHT In Austria, the Tracht, or traditional folk costume, is accepted as formal wear and can be worn even to an elegant ball at the Viennese Opera. Men wear green Loden jackets and Lederhosen (leather breeches), and women wear Dirndl dresses.

06 05 THE OLDEST OF THE OLD Founded in 803 as Stiftskeller St. Peter, Haslauer is the world's oldest inn/restaurant still in operation, and the oldest company in Europe.





The most famous of Austrian dishes is Weiner Schnitzel, which are cutlets of veal, pounded thin, dusted with egg and breadcrumbs, and then fried.



Founded in 1752 as an animal menagerie by Emperor Franz Stephan, Vienna’s Schönbrunn Tiergarten is the oldest zoo in the world.



The founder of the German sports car company 'Porsche' was the Austrian Ferdinand Porsche. He also designed the Volkswagen (the "people's car").




Born in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy. At age 6, he performed for the Empress Maria Theresa at Schönbrunn Palace and composed some of the most enduring classical compositions.

CLEVER AND CRAFTY After Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries, Austria has the highest number of Nobel Prize winners per capita (19 total).





H.E. NIKOLAUS LUTTEROTTI Austrian Ambassador to Serbia


Austria is a clear and strong supporter of Serbia’s bid for EU membership and considers Serbia as a part of Europe. However, in order to join the European Union Serbia will have to apply the entire set of EU legislation including strong attention toward implementation of the rule of law


ustria clearly supports Serbia’s EU path and commends the government for its bold stand towards reforms”, says newly appointed Austrian Ambassador to Serbia, H.E Nikolaus Lutterotti, emphasizing that over the last years Serbia has shown great ambition and determination to embark on reforms of the country so as to move




ahead towards EU membership. He also points out that there is a mutual interest of the European Union and the countries in the region for the accession process to be successful. “The European Commission made it clear that Serbia’s EU accession is not only a strategic goal of Serbia but also a firm objective of the EU itself”, says H.E Lutterotti. However, he notes, the successful accession process

means that all candidate countries will have to solve their bilateral disputes. “Serbia has shown commendable efforts in this regard so far and we are confident that the leadership of the country is determined to continue on this path”, says our interlocutor. Mr. Lutterotti spent his diplomatic career in the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Austrian Embassy in Beijing, Permanent Mission of Austria to

the United Nations, as a Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the UN General Assembly, as Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry for European and International Affairs, and Foreign Policy Advisor for various ministers and PMs in Austrian Government including Sebastian Kurz. Therefore our first question was focused on that part of his work.

As a foreign affairs adviser to the former Austrian Foreign Minister and now Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, how much of your work was dedicated to this region and Serbia? — From the very beginning of his tenure as Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs in December 2013 and now as Federal Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz has focused much of his time and efforts to this region of Europe, particularly to Serbia. Austria and Serbia have strong human, cultural, economic and historic ties. Austria, therefore, has a clear interest in the stability and prosperity of the region and of Serbia in particular. Even though we do not share a common border we consider Serbia as a neighbouring country.

Austria is one of the EU members that has always emphasized that it strongly supported Serbia's bid for the EU membership and the policy of regional stability. How successful is Serbia in implementing these two plans?

IT IS CLEAR THAT IF SERBIA AND KOSOVO WANT TO MOVE AHEAD ON THEIR RESPECTIVE PATHS TOWARDS THE EU THEY HAVE TO MAKE PROGRESS IN NORMALIZING THEIR RELATIONS — It is true that Austria is a clear and strong supporter of Serbia’s bid for EU membership, precisely for the reasons that I mentioned before. Serbia is part of Europe. But in order to join the European Union Serbia will have to apply the entire set of EU legislation. Over the last years we have seen

that Serbia has shown great ambition and determination to embark on reforms of the country so as to move ahead towards EU membership. As far as regional stability is concerned, all accession countries will have to solve their bilateral disputes. Serbia has shown commendable efforts in this regard so far and we are confident that the leadership of the country is determined to continue on this path.

Although there has been talk about expediting the country's entry into the EU, Serbia has not opened a single chapter for a long time, while the relations between official Belgrade and Priština are again taking precedent. How optimistic are you about Serbia achieving progress in this matter? — The European Commission has issued a very encouraging strategy in which it clearly and unambiguously reconfirmed Serbia’s and the region’s European perspective. It also made clear that Serbia’s EU accession is not only a strategic goal of Serbia but also a firm objective of the EU itself. And Serbia clearly is a frontrunner here. This in itself is an important and




positive message. The pace of accession is primarily determined by Serbia’s own pace of reforms. It is also clear that if Serbia and Kosovo want to move ahead on their respective paths towards the EU they have to make progress in normalizing their relations. I am still optimistic and Austria is certainly willing to continue to lend its support whenever and wherever needed.

What are the priorities of the Austrian presidency over the EU in the second half of the year? — We will take over the Presidency on 1st July from Bulgaria and we will continue to implement the Programme that the so called Troika (Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria) has set itself in June 2017. In general, the overall theme – as presented by Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz - will be: „A Europe that protects“. This in our view requires (1) to invest in security, such as protecting Europe’s external borders, (2) in securing our prosperity through investing in Europe’s competitiveness and (3) finally to invest in the political and economic stability of our neighbourhood, which includes the Western Balkans region. Austria will therefore put particular emphasis on supporting stability in Southeastern Europe. We want to see progress in the respective EU accession processes, including Serbia. We strongly believe that stability in this part of Europe is in the EU’s and in the region’s core interest. In which European integration segments can Austria support Serbia the most in terms of the country's reforms? — There are several areas in which we are happy to offer our support. Dual education is one of these areas where we are already very active and will continue to do so. Other areas have been in the field of public administration and e-government, the fight against corruption and environmental protection, including „green energy“. Numerous visits of the highest Serbian and Austrian officials have taken place in the previous period, and several joint economic and infrastructure projects have been launched. What are your priorities when it comes to further development of bilateral relations? — Our bilateral relations are excellent, both on a political, economic as well as cultural level. As for our political relations I hope




I AM CONVINCED THAT THE MORE STRUCTURAL REFORMS WILL BE UNDERTAKEN IN SERBIA, IN PARTICULAR IN THE FIELD OF RULE OF LAW, THE MORE AUSTRIAN INVESTMENTS WILL FOLLOW that we will see a continuity of the depth and intensity of political visits – in both directions. The visit of President Vucic in Austria in February this year was very positive and reflected the excellent state of our bilateral relations. As far as economic relations are concerned there is still a huge potential for both Serbia and Austria to intensify bilateral trade well as foreign direct investments. The interest of the Austrian business community is very high and I am convinced that the more structural reforms will be undertaken in Serbia, in particular in the field of rule of law, the more investments will follow. There is also a huge potential in working with the diaspora of about 300.000 people of Serbian origin in Austria. In the cultural field, I am

glad that our relations are also excellent, that there is a lot of fruitful exchange and that the number of Austrian artists coming to Serbia to participate in festivals, exhibitions and other cultural events has been increasing for years.

The Balkan route and generally the attitude towards migrants were one of the important topics in the talks between the two countries. How high is this issue on your agenda today? — The issue remains high on our agenda. The informal EU Leaders meeting during the Austrian presidency will focus on the issue of security and migration. In the meantime, Serbia has been emulating Austria in many segments, primarily in education and the way in chambers of commerce are organized. How much has this cooperation contributed to better recognition of common economic interests? — I would rather say that the recognition of common economic interests has led us to invest increasingly in the field of education. Also reforms in the area of the rule of law and the functioning of the state and its institutions will have a great impact - not only on the quality of life of Serbian citizens – but also on boosting further economic activity in Serbia.

NEW FRONTIERS OF COOPERATION ARE OPENING Sound macroeconomic policy strongly contributed to the trust of Austrian companies operating in Serbia. While few glitches – especially with regard to the tax administration and lack of a uniform and consistent application of regulations – are still present, both current and prospective investors are clearly focusing on new opportunities for economic cooperation


trong prospects for cooperation between Austria and Serbia are clearly shown in trade figures, number of business events planned for 2018, and further modalities of cooperation when it comes to dual education and in many other fields. In this interview Erika Teoman Brenner, Commercial Counsellor to the Embassy of Austria, speaks also about new initiatives for further cooperation.

What are the priorities of Austria in terms of acceleration of economic cooperation with Serbia? — We are very pleased to see that our bilateral trade develops so dynamically in the last 2 years. It is at a record high of 1,16 billion Euro. It is naturally our goal to keep this positive trend and see the trade grow even faster. Towards this end, we organize a series of events and conferences, both in Serbia and in Austria. Just to name a few: Austria will be represented at the Building Trade Fair, the International Fair of Technics and Technical Achievements, both in Belgrade, as well as at the Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad. Apart from our partici-






Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Austria

pation in various trade fairs in Serbia, we also invite Serbian companies to interesting events in Vienna, for example to the MARKETPLACE AUSTRIA FOOD 2018 or the FUTURE OF BUILDING conference including B2B-meetings and site visits of outstanding projects in May. We also actively support Austrian companies in their sourcing activities in Serbia and organize various matchmaking events for them. Just to highlight one of them: our annual B2B- event in the metalworking


industry has become a real success both for Serbian and Austrian companies and resulted in an impressive number of contracts for Serbian companies in this field.

How Austrian companies assess the changes in the business environment with regard to the most stubborn obstacles such as red tape and lack of predictability? — Having achieved economic stability through fiscal consolidation as well as the government´s commitment to the EU-accession process have probably been the most important steps towards restoring confidence on the part of both investors and exporters. On the basis of our annual survey among our investors here, we see that there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to the rule of law and, more specifically, the transparency and length of administrative and regulatory procedures. For example, we hear regularly from our business community that the tax administration often lacks a uniform and consistent application of regulations, which in turn creates uncertainty on the part of the companies.

What they value as the biggest advantages for doing business in Serbia? — In terms of expansion of their export activities in Serbia, Austrian companies value most new business opportunities resulting from the increasing demand for top technology and equipment in Serbia, as well as the efforts to upgrade the country´s infrastructure. We also see that Serbia, in particular Belgrade, has become more and more a regional center for many Austrian companies in the Western Balkans, taking advantage of the excellent knowledge of their Serbian partners of the regional markets. Regarding investment criteria, our investors value most the quality and availability of labour. How do you value prospects for further cooperation in the IT sector after Serbia digitalization as one of the government’s priorities? — The IT-sector is definitely a very promising area for more intensive cooperation. Serbia is very fortunate to have excellent universities and colleges in this field and their graduates can compete with the best on a global level. We see Serbia as one of the most important IT-hubs in the region and Austrian companies are increasingly looking into new opportunities here in terms of recruiting, cooperation and outsourcing. I would like to mention in this context that in Austria the Federal Economic Chamber sees the digitalization of SME as one its priorities and actively supports micro and small companies to cope with these new challenges. We are very happy to see that there is serious interest on the part of Serbian institutions to learn more about this and implement similar schemes in Serbia.

Dr. Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber

How does your support to Austrian business evolved since the early days of Serbian reforms? Did their requests for your assistance changed? — The essence of our company support and trade promotion activities has not changed over the years. However, we are

MORE AND MORE AUSTRIAN COMPANIES OPERATING IN THE WESTERN BALKANS ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE EXCELLENT KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR SERBIAN PARTNERS OF THE REGIONAL MARKETS glad to see that some of the problems that we had to deal with in the past, for example with construction permits, are no longer a major issue for our companies.

After successful start of dual education in Serbia how do you intend to support its implementation? — We run several activities to support the

successful implementation of the dual education system in Serbia. This support is geared towards companies, students and institutions. Just to give you an example: we bring expert trainers from Austria who spend a few days with Serbian trainers to show them how to train the students to handle real life situations in their professions. Furthermore, we help with our expertise in the drafting of laws and bylaws in a way that dual education can be implemented smoothly. We support a national campaign that aims to raise the awareness for dual education among students and their parents. In cooperation with companies, we continue to identify trades where dual education profiles are needed and help to set up these profiles with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

Who are your most valuable partners at the Serbian business scene? — We count on many actors in the Serbian business community and on an institutional level in our daily work. If I have to highlight one particular partner, then this is definitely the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We found in them the ideal partner to strengthen even more the economic ties between our two countries and really appreciate their cooperation and interest in continuing to do so.







Director of the Centre for Education, Dual Education and Education Policies at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce


ducating workforce and participating in creating education policies are highly ranked on the list of the activities carried out by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Employers in Serbia oftentimes cannot find workers with adequate know-how and developed skills, and in most cases, they don't have sufficient capacities, own resources or the time to train the workers, which, in the past years, has resulted in many vacant work positions. In order to bridge this gap, the Chamber, i.e. its Centre for Education, Dual Education and Education Policies, has been providing employers with contemporary and continuous business education with the view of teaching them about the requirements stemming from new economic and systemic regulation, and advancing the knowhow of employees, engaged in various positions, regarding quality systems, finances, insurance, marketing and market research and environmental protection – says Mirjana Kovačević, Director of the Centre for Education, Dual Education and Education Policies at the SCC.




The Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SCC) pays a great deal of attention to workforce education and participation in creation of education policies. Apart from dual education, the SCC also plays an important role in shaping the curricula taught in higher learning institutions. The SCC has recently established the Business Academy which focuses on systemic education

It was the SCC that initiated the implementation of the dual model in vocational high schools, at the request of employers, and the adoption of the Dual Education Law. The SCC represents the interests of businesses and higher learning institutions, in accordance with the Law on Higher Learning, with the SCC having two representatives in the National Council for Higher Learning. The SCC will also have two of its representatives in the Steering Committee of the National Accredita-


tion Body, with the new Law stipulating that all faculties should also have Employer Councils.

Additionally, and with the view of improving its activities in the field of employer education, the SCC has recently established the Business Academy that will focus on systemic education.What are the strategic education directions in accordance with labour market demands from the Chamber's perspective? — First and foremost, it is achieving balance between supply and demand in the labour market with adequate enrollment policies for high schools and universities, with the end goal being not educating students for jobs that are low in demand, but rather educating them to fill up the positions for which there is a high demand in the labour market. Secondly, it is job focused learning, which for a person means developing the ability to find, maintain or change the job or to become self-employed, and for companies and employers, it means developing employment. In translation this means

that their workers are able to respond to changed job requirements, thereby bolstering the competitiveness of the companies they work for and encouraging their development. Also, it is extremely important to fulfill lifelong learning principles and to achieve individual competencies that enhance worker mobility and job security.

The SCC is undoubtedly publicly known as an advocate of dual education. How much progress has this important educational reform made from the Chamber's perspective? — The SCC has been investing heavily in incorporating dual education into the system because it believes that it dual education contribute to the development of our country's economy. The Law on Dual education was adopted in November 2017. A growing number of schools and companies are getting involved in the dual education model. In the school year 2017/2018, there are 19 dual educational profiles and 43 educational profiles with elements of dual education in the country's education system. A total of 128 schools in the country are involved in dual education, of which as many as 50 schools have dual educational profiles. In order to implement dual education, the Serbian government has established the Commission for the Development and Implementation of Dual Education which works on the adoption of bylaws in accordance with the Law on Dual Education, modernization and creation of new educational profiles for the dual education model, as well as the establishment of an analytical system that monitors and evaluates dual education. Furthermore, other forms of cooperation between businesses and schools are

being developed and promoted, with the view of students acquiring practical, applicable knowledge. In this context, a format of student cooperatives is being developed, and work is being done on developing a national model of student practice and promotion of entrepreneurial learning.

What feedback did you get from companies and which new educational profiles they need?

WE EXPECT THE CONCRETE CONTRIBUTION OF THE SCC TO HIGHER EDUCATION TO BE BETTER HARMONIZATION OF CURRICULA WITH THE NEEDS OF BUSINESSES AND THE LABOUR MARKET — As of school year 2017/2018, 205 companies have been involved in dual education model, with students that are studying dual education curricula are engaging in work focused learning at these companies' premises. The feedback that we got from companies that are involved in dual education are very positive. To illustrate this, let me just say that out of 135 students that have graduated high school in line with dual model, 83 of them remained working for the companies that they had their work practice in which demonstrates a very positive attitude that companies have towards dual education, and their need for workers that are educated in accordance with their

work requirements. At least 14 educational profiles under the dual education model are being prepared for the next school year, including construction technician, basic construction operator, mechatronics technician, tourist-hotel technician, computer technician, consumer support technician, food industry operator, etc.

In which segments did the assistance from your Austrian partners help the most? — The Austrian vocational education system is an excellent example of the successful application of dual education in practice. The clear regulation that exists in Austria, as well as good cooperation between the private and public sectors and between schools and companies, are a model / pattern to be emulated. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce is our main partner in the project, which is being implemented with the financial support of the Austrian Development Agency. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce has the key role in the dual education model, as it manages a register of learning through work positions, trains the instructors, informs students and works on their career guidance and counseling, identifies changes in occupations and accordingly gives input for changes in the curricula . These are all activities that we are trying to adopt through the transfer of the Austrian know-how. Digitalization has raised new issues regarding education. How is your Centre involved in the government's efforts to create more quality IT staff? — The Centre is involved in both formal and informal education, as far as IT staff is con-





cerned. Recently, business community has given significant input towards innovating the existing and creating new educational profiles which are important for the IT industry. When it comes to informal education, there are many topics which implementation should improve the knowledge of IT professionals, with some of them already included in the education programme.

The IT sector is the best example how people with a completely different education have managed to become topnotch software experts. How important is formal education today in comparison to informal learning and fast acquisition of skills? — Formal education is both very important and necessary; it is the foundation for the development of society, but unfortunately, in itself, it is generally not sufficient for the success of an individual in the labour market. Bearing in mind the changes that are happening every day around us, we think that there has to be constant improvement in order to keep up with our society's development so that we can become competent enough to respond to the demands placed upon us. The importance of informal education is not negligible at all, considering that nowadays we cannot separate formal from informal ed-




A PROGRAMME OF SYSTEMIC EDUCATION OF IT PERSONNEL IS CURRENTLY BEING PREPARED, AND IT WILL BE TAUGHT AT OUR BUSINESS ACADEMY ucation because they do share commonalities. We should not view them as rivals, but rather as two systems that are intertwined.

According to your findings, how much attention do companies in Serbia pay to continous training and how does the SCC encourage this trend? — The idea of lifelong learning is still in its infancy in Serbia. Certain individuals and companies, mainly big ones, have been implementing it because they are aware of the fact that only by continuously investing in increasing knowledge and competencies can they keep up with their competitors. Education is still not treated as an investment which can result in a significant return. Moreover, it is often viewed as an expense that companies will elimi-

nate first in case their financial situation changes for worse. Although, every company with 10 or more employees should have its own HR department, in practice that is rarely the case. Also, a very small number of companies, compared to the number of the officially registered ones, have a HR development strategy and training strategies, as well as clearly allocated budgets for employee training that are in correlation to their gross salary budget. Accordingly, they have not developed an IT database on employee training per department, type of training, individual worker, etc. Also, they either insufficiently conduct training sessions (a developed internal quality control system in training), or they don’t conduct them at all. As a result, there is no available information which would be the basis for evaluation of return on investments in training.

What are the key challenges for the SCC in the upcoming period? — They primarily relate to the promotion of the importance of business education for all employees, at different levels of accountability, the development of a methodology for identifying training needs, and analyzing the effects and assessing the changes in post-training work performance.


TRADITIONAL PARTNERS Austrians know how to deal with us — Text —

Žikica Milošević


f anybody can claim to know this part of the world well, which used to belong to the Habsburg Empire (yes, a big chunk of Central Serbia and Bosnia did so in the 18th century), it is the Austrians. They say that the Orient begins at the entrance of Vienna, and that the Viennese are very aware that they have to learn how to maintain their Germanic spirit while attracting different nations to their country.




They are doing this quite successfully and stress-free, slowly drawing us all in into their work culture. The economic cooperation between the two countries is very good. Austria is the biggest foreign investor in the Serbian economy. According to the data collated by the NBS, in late September 2015, Austrian investments amounted to 3.78 billion EUR, while, in 2017, they excedeed 4 billion

EUR. There are close to 450 Austrian companies operating in Serbia, which, together with their investments, resulted in creation of 25,000 new jobs. This is a big progress from 2015, when 400 Austrian companies were present in Serbia. Since 2000, the bilateral relations between Serbia and Austria has been intensified. The substantial Austrian investments in Serbia are a reflection of the

overall improvement of bilateral relations. All of this was bolstered by the legal framework. The following intergovernmental treaties have contributed the most to the development of bilateral relations – the Double Taxation Agreement Between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Austria in Relation to Income and Property Tax (2010) and the Agreement Between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Government of the Republic of Austria on Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments (2002). According to the latest available data for the period January-June 2017, Serbia's total external trade in goods with Austria amounted to slightly over 400 million EUR. In the first six months of 2017, total exports amounted to close to 160 million EUR (Austria's share in Serbia's total exports is 2.4%). Austria ranks 14th on the list of the countries that Serbia exports the most to. On the other hand, over 250 million EUR worth of goods were imported from Austria, with the total share in imports of 2.9%. According to the Revision 4 of the SITC, Serbia mostly exports electric circuit appliances to Austria. The total export of goods to Austria in 2015 amounted to 317.1 million EUR and accounted for 2.6% of the total Serbian export. The same year, Austria was ranked 13th on the list of the countries that Serbia mostly exports to. Serbia's export to Austria recorded a 19.8% growth relative to the previous year. 480 million EUR of goods were imported from Austria that year (a 0.7% decrease in relation to 2014), which is a 2.9% share in total imports. The export to import ratio stood at 66.1% that year. Buy / sell arrangements are the dominant aspect of Serbia's trade with Austria,

while in exports, the most dominant form of economic activity is processing, post-processing and free zone trading. Year-on-year, the external trade between the two countries has been recording a constant growth, but its current level is still not a proper reflection of the market needs of the two countries. The Republic of Serbia has signed ten bilateral agreements with Austria, the implementation of which contributes to the development of bilateral economic relations

AS A RESULT OF THE GOOD POLITICAL RELATIONS, IT IS EXPECTED THAT THIS COOPERATION WILL DEVELOP EVEN MORE AND THAT INVESTMENTS IN THE SERBIAN ECONOMY WILL BE EVEN GREATER (these cover scientific and technological cooperation, double taxation in relation to income and property tax, development cooperation, cooperation in the field of agriculture and forestry, mutual promotion and protection investments, etc.). The dual eduction cooperation is particularly significant, and the following agreements have been signed: • The Memorandum of Understanding on the Development of Elements of Dual Education in Secondary Vocational Education in the Republic of Serbia was signed between the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Re-

public of Austria, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce on 9th February 2016, on the premises of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, during the official visit of the Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Sebastian Kurz to the Republic of Serbia. • With the support of ADA and the Go International Initiative, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, WKO and Advantage Austria are implementing are a joint project on introducing and developing the dual education concept and building the capacity of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. • At the initiative of the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, with Austria's support, and as a result of the conference Building a Western Balkan Alliance for Work-Based Learning that took place in Vienna in May 2016, with the participation of various stakeholders from the private and public sectors from the Western Balkans, Austria, France , Germany, Romania, and Slovakia, a Joint Statement was signed establishing regional cooperation between Erisee - Education Reform Initiative of SEE (a network of education ministries) and the CIF Investment Forum of the Western Balkan Chambers of Commerce with the view of fostering regional cooperation in dual education and dealing with challenges such as migration and lack of skills. As a result of the good political relations, it is expected that this cooperation will develop even more and that investments in the Serbian economy will be even greater.






STABILITY IS VALUABLE Although, today there is a room for a more expansive fiscal policy, it is important to be mindful not to enter a vicious circle of procyclical politics yet again


Chairman of Erste Bank’s Executive Board


ne of the goals in the banking market in Serbia is to bring the number of NLPs down to the European level. Slavko Carić, Chairman of Erste Bank’s Executive Board, says that progress has been made in this matter in the last two years.

What do the results from 2017 show? — Over the past year, there has been a significant decline in the number of NPLs, primarily thanks to the decision made by the NBS which says that banks are obligated to do a technical write-off of their NPL placements that have been 100% corrected. Furthermore, one of the measures that facilitated the process of reducing the number of NPL in banks is the new tax legislation proposed by the Ministry of Finance, and adopted by the National Parliament late last year. Now, banks are no longer obligated to calculate and pay income tax, as well as the personal income tax for NPLs, providing they do a technical write-off on the basis of the NBS decision. What is your assessment of Serbia’s fiscal position and the more expansive fiscal policy? — In the past few years, Serbia has significantly improved its fiscal position, partly owing to the active cooperation with the IMF. Fiscal consolidation has been implemented in many segments,




while public sector employees carried a chunk of the burden. The expectation is that now, when the fiscal space is much larger and when the economy is growing faster, the government will decide to increase civil servant salaries and pensions. Also, a stronger investment cycle is expected to take place. Although, in this situation there


BETTER PREVENTIVE MEASURES IMPLEMENTED BY BANKS HAVE DEFINITELY CONTRIBUTED TO THE DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF NPLS, AS DID THE STABLE MACROECONOMIC SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY is room for a more expansive fiscal policy, policy makers must exercise caution not to enter a vicious circle of pro-cyclical politics yet again where you spend when in economic expansion, and cut back when in recession which results in fiscal policy not being able to fulfil one of its main roles, that is to bring stability.

We are all witnesses of the changes brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What kinds of changes are taking place in banking sector and how much is Erste Bank investing in the development of digital services? — For quite some time now, Erste Group has had its innovation hub, and has been cooperating with fin-tech companies with the view of advancing its digital services. In its biggest markets, the Group has already launched its own digital banking platform called George. In the near future, we are also going to finalize the platform’s implementation in Central and Eastern European markets. Erste Bank is recognized for investing in CSR activities, and implementing the Superste! project and the "#believeinyourself" campaign. How important are these projects and their results? — On a daily basis, in our line of work, we meet people who have become successful by having a good idea and believing in it. In talking with them, we are told, time and time again, that being successful in your private and professional life is possible, but also that support is important. It is these kinds of people that we want to support, promote and tell their stories. Every year, we invest in arts and culture projects in those parts of Serbia where we are traditionally present.



Managing Director of GRAWE Osiguranje

Research has shown that GRAWE is a company that people trust. We are proud of such a result because we have been working hard on it for two decades, and are still working on it. In 2017, we recorded a portfolio growth and had 7,000 new life insurance contracts, as well as the premium worth over 30 million euros and 200 successful, professional people working for our insurance company




FAIR APPROACH AS MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR SUCCESS Christoph Czettl, Managing Director of GRAWE Osiguranje, says he is extremely satisfied with the company's business results in Serbia. "In addition to the impressive financial results, the indicators of our success are also the results of the latest survey conducted by Ipsos Strategic Marketing in December 2017, which indicate the increasing recognizability of GRAWE Osiguranje in Serbia, namely over 30% of the population between ages 30 and 40 know that GRAWE is a powerful and stable company, and are aware of the reputation and the image that we have been nurturing for years“, Mr. Czettl says. "We are particularly proud of the fact that the survey results show that GRAWE is among the most important insurers in the life insurance segment, and that financial sta-

bility and security are the attributes that citizens use the most in describing our insurance company“, he adds. You have acquired several insurance companies in the region in the previous period. Do you plan to continue perpetuating this growth trend and have more acquisitions in Serbia?



― Organic growth is the core our business strategy because we believe in our own staff and financial resources, but of course, we are open to the possibility of acquisitions, as we did in Croatia, Romania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are not going to rule out that possibility here, and expanding in the Serbian market through our organic growth and acquisitions. To what extent does GRAWE in Serbia follow the trends and innovations in IT development? ― Faster and more efficient work processes are implied in modern business, so in this respect, GRAWE has been focusing on the development of new applications, the improvement of the entire IT system and software solutions that we need, both at the Group and local level. The GRAWE Power application is a good example of this. This application has revolutionized agent sales, as it includes everything related to the required data and documentation as an integral part of efficient and professional sales process, including all legally prescribed information that has to be considered before concluding an insurance contract, insurance conditions and the like. What life insurance product would you like to single out as the most competitive? ― Two years ago, we created a life insurance programme called GRAWE Smart, in which the citizens ages 15 to 65 can participate. In this way, we have made our products accessible to our clients, be it students and pensioners. The product is fully customizable to suit their needs. We also offer the possibility of one-off payment and ongoing premium payment. GRAWE Smart is a more competitive product than most products in the banking market as it generates very interesting profits, while, at the same time, providing protection for clients and, of course, their entire families. Legal requirements for the sale of unit-linked policies in Serbia have been met. Are you going to incorporate this type of investments into your existing product range?

― Although legal requirements for the sale of unit-linked life insurance policies have been met in Serbia, we do not currently plan on introducing this type of insurance. In order for this kind of product to be successful and to develop further there has to be a developed capital market, long-term perspective for clients, their readiness and the possibility for continuous investment. The neighbouring countries have proven that classic life insurance policy is a "more cautious approach" when long-term investments are in question. As an example, we can take Slovenia where unit-linked insurance was very popular before the economic crisis. Since the onset of the economic crisis that has affected the Slovenian market, the development of these products has been halted and the sale has been significantly reduced because clients have "felt on their skin“ what it means to bear the risk for the sake of higher returns.


GRAWE OSIGURANJE FOCUSES ON INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES AND IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW HOW SIGNIFICANT IT IS TO HAVE A GOOD PARTNER FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT You have also introduced insurance policies for small and medium enterprises. What are the results so far and are they interested in this kind of product? ― Although it is not currently showing significant growth, insurance for small and medium enterprises has a great potential in the Serbian market. People who are developing their businesses are increasingly considering how to prevent risks that could affect their business. We have clients in the SME portfolio who have been developing their businesses for decades, and there are more and more of those who are at the very beginning too. We also

support various start-ups and young people who "transform their ideas into their own business". At the beginning of this year, you introduced vehicle insurance. What is the strategy in this segment? ― At the beginning of 2018, we included compulsory auto insurance, partial and complete casco insurance, as well as car accident insurance, that is, the insurance of persons (driver and passengers) against the consequences of a motor vehicle accident, in our in product offer. We are still working on training our staff across Serbia. In addition, we are also working on reorganizing and preparing our staff to sell this type of insurance. What are GRAWE Osiguranje's plans for this year in terms of new products and business performance goals? ― Increasing the insurance premium, the number of clients and the business processes that we have been continually improving are all the reasons for further and more intensive growth and development. Our business policy imperatives imply further growth and development in the life insurance segment, but also in the non-life insurance segment. Our main reason for introducing auto insurance is that we wanted to meet our clients' needs. Our vision is for our clients, who are traveling in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and further into the countries where we operate, to feel that GRAWE is on their side. We offer vehicle insurance in Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, so it was only natural to close the "gap" on the GRAWE map. Our experience has shown that, by investing in professional skills of our staff, we increase the satisfation of our clients who are the users of our insurance programme. I am mainly referring here to the professional approach of our insurance agents who recognize client's needs and respond adequately to them. That is why we will continue to heavily invest in our employees and in their expertise in the future too, and above all, in their readiness to advise citizens in the best way possible.





RICH AND CONSERVATIVE Middle-road neutrality is the key


fter the tragic events of 1918, Austria decided to seriously deal with its economy, as a neutral country and a mediator in conflicts. Austria was the first country to enter Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

THE BRIDGE! Not only was Austria the first country to enter the area of Eastern, Central and




Southern Europe, i.e. the places where socialism ruled, with its finances, banks and companies, but even before that, at the time when Prague and Budapest were behind the Iron Curtain, it was Vienna where multinational companies opened their officies, just a few dozen kilometres from the socialist world. Years spent on building „an empire“ in Central Europe, a kind of „European Union before European Union“, meant that the Austrians were not troubling themselves with creating colo-

nies in Africa or Asia (save for one failed attempt in India), but rather building a true economic empire that exports Austrian culture, and that is based on cooperation (and governance, truth be told). When socialism went to pieces, Austria was ready. Its economy, based on respecting tradition, social justice and flexibility, immediately jumped at the opportunity to go East and cement its position as a county that serves as a bridge, a role model and an investor.

SAY NO TO BLOCS, SAY YES TO DEVELOPMENT! Austria has achieved a lot with its decision not to join any blocs. Instead of giving money for army and weapons, the Austrians, like the Japanese or the Germans, invested in themselves. As a result, Austria is one of the 14 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, has a well-developed social-market economy and a high living standard. Until the 1980s, many of Austria's largest industrial firms were nationalised. In recent years, however, privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have a big influence on labour politics. Next to a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy. The problem, however, is that Austria is connected to much bigger neighbours, members of G-7: Italy and Germany. The latter could be both beneficial and problematic. Historically, Germany has been Austria's main trading partner, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. However, since Austria became an EU member, it has formed closer ties to other EU economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. Thank God that Germany is not experiencing many problems, so there is no need to worry.


Due to Austria’s geographical location, in the centre of Europe, there were already a number of important trade routes crossing each other here that have been utilizing waterways (the Danube, the Mürz, the Inn and many more) and the Alpine passes

THE FIGURES PROVE THAT AUSTRIANS ARE HAPPY. THE HAPPY PLANET INDEX WAS 30.5 IN 2016 WHICH PUTS AUSTRIA IN 10TH PLACE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION (Brenner, Radstädter Tauernpass etc.). Some of these routes run through Austria and are used for trade promotion, while others left to export their own resources. The trade routes stretched from north to south, criss-crossing Austria. Also, the salt and iron roads passed through Austria for centuries, making it an important trade channel and a raw material source. Main industries are nowadays construction, machinery, vehicles and parts, food, metals, chemicals, lumber and wood processing, paper and paperboard, communications equipment, and of course, tourism.

SHINY HAPPY WORKING PEOPLE State has always played a bit role in Austria, making people feel safe from the wild capitalist impulses. Many of the country's largest firms were nationalised in the early post-war period to protect them from the Soviet takeover as war reparations. For many years, the government and its stateowned industrial conglomerate had a very important role in the Austrian economy. However, starting in the early 1990s, the group was broken apart with state-owned firms starting to operate largely as private businesses. A great number of these companies were wholly or partially privatized. All of this did make Austria happy! Why should it not!? The living standard, healthcare services, a relaxed work attitude (although the Austrians work the most out of all EU countries) has resulted in a lot of overall happiness with the figures to prove that - the Happy Planet Index was 30.5 in 2016 which puts Austria in 10th place in the European Union.






WHY FIX SUCCESSFUL TACTICS IF THEY ARE NOT BROKEN In 2017, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA proved once again that it provides excellent support to Austrian companies in their external trade activities and thus significantly contributes to the development of the country’s exports. Many awards and numerous activities organized last year speak in favour of this

Martha Schulz, Vice President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Dejan Turk, CEO of Vip mobile


t the World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations that took place on 4th January 2017, the External Trade Department of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce received a silver medal for taking the second place in the Best Trade Promotion Organizations segment / the Industrial Countries category, which is given out by the International Trade Centre from Geneva. The Centre is a joint organization established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Organization (UNO). Winners were announced at the event in Marrakech, Morocco. In early February, the Trade department




of the Austrian Embassy-ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA announced the results of the fifth survey on business conditions with the participation of the Austrian companies operating in Serbia. This time around, the survey was conducted regionally. An identical survey was conducted in Serbia and countries in the region in the form of a joint venture project of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA’s sister offices. The survey was anonymous, conducted online, and was addressed to directors of Austrian companies in the respective countries. The survey results can be downloaded on the website, in the News section, under the title “Anketa o Uslovima Poslovanja”, available both in Serbian and

German language, in the PDF format. Apart from organizing traditional and regular gatherings of Austrian business people, on 30th and 31st May 2017, Advantage Austria organised in Belgrade the second regional conference AUSTRIA CONNECT South East Europe 2017, together with ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA’s sister offices from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Slovenia. The conference focused on the competitiveness in the region and in individual countries, the challenges for industry, infrastructure and labour market, and benefits for Austrian investors. A total of 154 companies and individuals participated in the conference.

Representatives of Austrian companies, potential investors in the SEE, as well as managers of Austrian companies from Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro also had the opportunity to find out more about the potential of the countries in the region through individual interviews with regional trade consultants. Minister without Portfolio in charge of EU Integration, Ms. Jadranka Joksimovic and the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Čadež were the honourable guests of the conference. In addition to the AUSTRIA CONNECT conference, a delegation of presidents of the regional chambers of commerce met up at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce on the occasion of the Western Balkan Chamber Investment Forum. Also, under the auspices of the AUSTRIA CONNECT conference, the representatives of the chambers of commerce of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia participated in a panel discussion titled „Trends, Challenges and Opportunities in South East Europe". There was also a presentation of a successful Austrian company that operates in the region. Christof Papousek, the director and co-owner of Cineplexx Cinema, outlined his expansion strategy in Europe and spoke how he never bribed anyone while expanding its business. An expert from the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW), Mr. Karl Bayer gave an overview of the current economic situation in the Balkans. On behalf of the External Trade Organization of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA, Mr. Patrick

AUSTRIA CONTINUES TO SUPPORT SERBIA IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DUAL EDUCATION. CURRENTLY, WE ARE WORKING ON CREATING AN EDUCATION PROFILE FOR LOGISTICS AND FREIGHT FORWARDING TECHNICIANS Sagmeister, held the presentation "The hidden market niche champions of Austria" in which he talked about Austrian companies that are engaged in technology and small-scale goods production which are market leaders despite or thanks to their core business.

EVENTS AT THE AUSTRIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN VIENNA The Chamber of Commerce organized a series of events at its headquarters in order to create a platform for international networking, with the help of a web portal, at which the participants were introduced to various profiles of business partners in order to schedule a meeting with them online. These included the Software Days, World Sustainable Energy Days, MIT Europe Conference 2017, Pioneers Festival for Startups, Green Building Conference, International Machine Building and Construction Forum and others. The Future of Building - Forum

Dr Walter Koren, Head of Advantage Austria’s External Trade Organization and Dr Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce

and B2B dedicated to Sustainable Construction is due to take place in May 2018.


Several Austrian companies exhibited at the Technology Fair in Belgrade in 2017 with the aim of finding business partners or direct buyers for their products. They also exhibited at the Tourism Fair and the Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad with the same goal. For the first time ever, Austria had its own booth at the 2017 Tourism Fair in Novi Sad. The goal was to introduce Austria as not only a winter holiday destination, but also as a country that has a lot to offer in terms of holidays and relaxation outside its winter tourist centres. Austrian companies were also popular at the EDUFair, the Construction Fair and Ecofair & Energetica Fair which all took place on the premises of the Belgrade Fair.


One of the activities of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA’s Trade Department was organizing a series of seminars dedicated to amendments to law. In cooperation with the renowned Austrian tax consultancies, TPA Serbia, Confida Tax Audit Consulting, LeitnerLeitner, and Ecovis Con, and JPM | Janković, Popović, Mitić and Petrikić & Partners law firms, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA organized a series of legal and tax-related seminars throughout the year.


The dual education project in Serbia is one of the leading projects implemented by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA’s office in Belgrade. The revitalization of dual education is successfully developing. With this

Presidents of regional chambers of commerce from the countries that participated in AUSTRIA CONNECT




Technology Fair, Austria, 2017

EduFair 2017 Stand Austria

in mind, the Vice President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Martha Schulz, a representatives of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, and a representative of the Austrian Development Agency, ADA visited Belgrade on 30th and 31st March, 2017. At a meeting that took place at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (SCC), the Chamber’s President, Marko Čadež pointed out that the Chamber has been working on introducing worker profiles that were in demand in the labour market. Currently, the work is being done on devising educational profile of logistics and freight forwarding technicians, with other worker profiles to come later. Ms Schulz said that Austria would continue supporting Serbia in the implementation of dual education. On 26th April, 2017, Austria, Germany and Switzerland signed a Memorandum of Understanding stipulating coordination of assistance to Serbian businesses in implementing and expanding dual education in Serbia, with an emphasis on drafting a dual education law. Since it is not possible to simply copy the existing dual education systems in the said countries, the conclusion was that it was necessary to create an individual system for the Serbian market that will fit its specific requirements. In November 2016, the Commercial Department of the Embassy of Austria and the German Society for International Cooperation, GIZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding, on behalf of Austria and Germany respectively, stipulating joining forces in the revitalization of dual education in Serbia. „Currently, around 800 students in 16 high schools throughout Serbia are educated in accordance with this model. These students have practice in 50 companies,




including German and Serbian companies, as well as large, medium and small enterprises," said Ann-Kathrin Hentschel, who signed the Agreement on behalf of GIZ. Since September 2017, three more educational profiles have been developed with the support of the German government - fashion tailor, car mechanic and electro-mechanical grid and equipment fitter. With the support from the Austrian Development Agency, ADA, the Commercial Department of the Austrian Embassy / ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA has commenced cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and High School of Commerce, with the

AUSTRIAN COMPANIES ARE INCREASINGLY PRESENT AT TRADE FAIRS IN SERBIA WHERE THEY ARE PROMOTING THEIR HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES support of dm drogeriemarkt, Univerexport and Delhaize, on developing another worker profile – shop worker. Preparations are underway for development of the worker profile freight forwarder-logistics officer. The three signatories of this Agreement are Erika Teoman-Brenner, Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Embassy, AnnKathirn Hentschel on behalf of GIZ-a and Ursula Läubli on behalf of the Swiss Cooperation. On 9th November, 2018, the Serbian National Parliament passed the Dual Ed-

ucation Law and several related bylaws. In the rationale, the Parliament said that the aim of this law was to adapt the curricula at vocational high schools to the needs of businesses, to reduce unemployment in young people under the age of 25, and to boost Serbia’s competitiveness, both regionally and globally. The law will be implemented as of school year 2019/2020. The next step, which was done in collaboration with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and under the auspices of the Implementation of Dual Education in Serbia project and the Austrian Development Agency, ADA, entailed ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA organizing training of instructors from dm drogeriemarkt, VIP mobile, Univerexport and Metro from all over Serbia, that will be in charge of training the new generation of the students who chose the worker profile of a shop worker in line with the dual education model. The training took place on Friday, 1st December and Saturday, 2nd December, 2017, with the support of experts from the Austrian Institute for the Development of Education (IBW), Ms Michaela La Marca and Mr. Markus Müllner. The training was intended for the employees from the companies that will be instructing students, with the aim transferring practical knowledge and skills to them in accordance with the curriculum. The training and exam programme is devised by the Institute for the Advancement of Education, which is a partner on the project, with the expert assistance from Austria and Germany. In 2016, 109 students, who chose a shop worker educational profile, had practice in 5 companies only in Belgrade. In just over a year, there were over 300 students who had practice in 35 companies across the country.


WE DUPLICATED INVESTMENTS IN THE PREVIOUS YEAR Secret of success: independence, sustainability, commitment and service excellence


ebrüder Weiss (GW) is one of the oldest Austrian companies that is still family-owned. With 60% of its own capital in the company, GW has been demonstrating its financial stability year after year. The company employs over 6,700 people, while the local branch of Gebrüder Weiss has around 250 workers. Maja Verlašević, Procurist and Head of Finance and Accounting at Gebrüder Weiss Serbia, underlines that the company’s turnover in 2017 grew by almost 15% and that it stands at 1.55 billion EUR. „Last year, we generated a turnover of 32.5 million EUR. In the period from 2015 to 2017, we invested over 10 million EUR, mostly in the expansion of our logistics capacities“, Ms Verlašević says and adds that GW Serbia emulates the financial stability and trends in the Group.

You work for a company that has been growing and extending its network at the global level. Did you open new branches and how much does the Serbian branch followin these growth trends? — Gebrüder Weiss operates in over 150 locations around the world. Last year's results where especially significant because they reflected our regional expansion in Europe, Asia and North America, as well as our last acquisition in Germany. We filled the gap on the New Silk Road by establishing a representative office in Yerevan, Armenia.


Procurist and Head of Finance and Accounting at Gebrüder Weiss Serbia

The secret of GW's success lies in the four key values that we abide by: independence, sustainability, commitment and service excellence. While being keenly aware of our business and social responsibility, we provide solutions that save resources. Less than 10 years ago, we built a windmill that today generates more than 100% of electricity annually, used by the entire Gebrüder Weiss concern. All our warehouses use solar photovoltaic energy. We also use Thin Client instead of PCs and thus save 70 kg of carbon dioxide per workplace. As a company that has a high level of awareness about the development and


LESS THAN 10 YEARS AGO, WE BUILT A WINDMILL THAT TODAY GENERATES MORE THAN 100% OF ELECTRICITY ANNUALLY, USED BY THE ENTIRE GEBRÜDER WEISS CONCERN expansion of the logistics and transport segment of our business, we make sure that our employees develop and adapt to that through training. Thanks to several educational and training programmes, our employees are given an opportunity to build a solid foundation for their career in the "orange world“. In 1988, the company established a fund

for financing educational and training programmes. In Serbia, we have implemented two very successful projects in cooperation with GIZ YEP. One of them is a programme that targets unemployed young people who are now able to find a job faster as a result of acquiring certain skills.

In which segments can Gebrüder Weiss Serbia expand even more? — We are focusing on further development of Gebrüder Weiss' services for hi-tech and automotive sectors, as well as on implementing logistics solutions for consumer goods and brands. Our company has over 20 years of experience in logistics in the automotive industry (Automotive Logistics) and we are well aware of its strict requirements, i.e. the just in time delivery. Automotive industry requires high-performance logistic solutions, just like one of our clients – Volkswagen - for which we have been running a complex logistic process from Serbia too. Another segment of our business, which also carries a great potential, is the B2C (Bussines to Consumer) service. In 2017 alone, our parent company made 300,000 deliveries to end customers, mostly furniture, kitchen and home appliances. To this end, I would like to underline that, in 2016, GW Serbia received a RATEL license for courier services and thus became one of the very few registered logistics providers in this business segment too.





In 2018 Austria commemorates the 100th anniversary since its establishment and departure of some of its most important artists such as Gustav Klimt. These important events will mark the cultural offer of the Austrian Cultural Forum. However, young artists and scientist won’t be in their shadow



Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum


ach year the Austrian Cultural Forum brings young and innovative artists and scientists from Austria, and their work to the Serbian cultural scene. Many of these events are not reserved just for the major Serbian cities but also travel to the towns where foreign cultural content is rare. Thanks to the Forums eagerness to cooperate with many local cultural providers, the audience in some smaller cities had the opportunity to watch Austrian films for the first time, says our interlocutor, Johannes Irschik, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum.





Some of the exhibitions such as the one about Gustav Klimt have circled the world with the support of the Austrian Culture Forum. How do you choose which Austrian cultural content is going to be exhibited or promoted in Serbia and the region? — One of our primary objectives is to present Austria as an innovative and creative nation that is historically diverse and rich in culture and scientific know-how. While there is considerable interest in historic figures, such as Gustav Klimt, who was ahead of his time and introduced new approaches to artistic expression, the ma-

jority of our Serbian audiences and partner institutions is interested in young and innovative artists and scientists from Austria, coming from all kind of fields, be it architecture, applied and fine arts, film, music, dance, theater, literature or science. In line with the principle coined by another famous Austrian artist, Gustav Mahler, “tradition means passing on the fire, not worshipping the ashes” we place the focus on the innovative- creative element. We benefit from a large network of Serbian partner institutions that approach us with project proposals and together we then decide whether the proposal fits our objectives and is in line with our regulations.

How much it takes to put together a plan of work of the Austrian cultural forum in Serbia. When did you start to plan the program for 2018, how the decisions are made, and how much preparation the logistic may take? — Our annual planning starts in the autumn of the preceding year, when we draft a program overview for the coming year. Detailed programs are then drafted three times a year, several months before the actual event happens. It is therefore important for us to discuss project proposals with Serbian or Austrian Institutions and individuals well in advance, preferably half a year before the project is scheduled to be carried out. The decision whether we can accept a project proposal or not is based on a variety of principles: the quality and artistic value of the proposal, whether we think that the proposal is appealing to Serbian audiences and whether we have sufficient budget at our disposal. Artists and scientists that we support must be Austrian citizens or residents and professionals. The

duration of the preparation and logistics of events depend on the scale of the project and the division of labor between us and our partners.

Which events would you like to single out in this year’s program? — 2018 is an important year for Austria. 100 years ago, the Republic of Austria was founded and we are working on several projects to commemorate this anniversary. In 1918, also some of the most important Austrian artists – Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Koloman Moser and Otto Wagner – passed away. Gustav Klimt is probably the

100 YEARS AGO, THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA WAS FOUNDED AND WE ARE WORKING ON SEVERAL PROJECTS TO COMMEMORATE THIS ANNIVERSARY best known of them in Serbia. The most important milestones on his way to the “Gesamtkunstwerk” will be presented in the exhibition „Gustav Klimt. Forerunner of Modernism“ that will travel throughout Serbia this whole year. In addition to the exhibition, a screening of the film „Klimt“ by Raoúl Ruiz is also planned, thanks to the generous support of the Frikom company. The visitors of the openings in ten Serbian cities will have a chance to taste the new aroma of the FRIKOM Grandissimo ice

cream that was inspired by Klimt’s masterpiece – „The Kiss“. This year’s edition of the film festival organized by the EU Info Centre will thematically focus on marking the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Over 20 European cultural institutes and EU embassies have already confirmed their participation. We have chosen the film “Mademoiselle Paradis” by Barbara Albert that, by telling a story of a blind 18 year old girl who is also a pianist of remarkable talent, also depicts Austrian society and culture in the late 18th century. Every year around the dates of the Belgrade Book Fair, the EUNIC network (European Union National Institutes for Culture) tries to contribute by organizing programs that might interest Serbian experts in the field of literature, language, translation… This year we plan to organize a conference that will focus on the issues related to libraries in the 21st century. We will invite experts from France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria along with the most renowned experts from Serbia. Librarians from the whole of Serbia will be invited to attend the conference and exchange know-how with the visitors and among each other. In 2018, we are also carrying out our first projects together with the organizers of the European Capital of Culture Novi Sad 2021, among them residencies for visual artists and musicians and the participation of representatives of Austrian cultural centers in workshops and conferences. Besides these events, many Austrian artists are again participating with our support in all kind of music and film festivals as well as exhibitions around Serbia.

You know Serbia very well and you are traveling a lot throughout the country.





How do you estimate cultural potentials of smaller cultural centers and institutions in Serbia? Do they have a capacity for cooperation with the Forum? — When I arrived in Serbia two and a half years ago, I was pleasantly surprised that even in small cities there is a cultural center or another cultural institution that offers a wide range of activities. We are more than willing to cooperate with smaller cultural centers and institutions as we aim to promote Austrian culture not only in Belgrade and other major Serbian cities but also in towns where people often do not have access to foreign cultural content. Last year, for instance, we organized a film festival which was also travelling through smaller cities. In some of the cities it was the first time that Austrian films were screened. Another example are our travelling exhibitions that last year were shown more than 30 times in cultural centers, museums and libraries all over Serbia. According to your knowledge, what are the impressions of Austrian artists who are performing or exhibiting in Serbia? — I am glad to say that the impressions of




Austrian artists are very positive, and that I receive enthusiastic feedback. Many of them visit Serbia for the first time and are not only impressed by the openness and friendliness of the people, but also by the professionalism and enthusiasm of Serbian artists and other cultural stakeholders.

I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED THAT EVEN IN SMALL CITIES THERE IS A CULTURAL CENTER OR ANOTHER CULTURAL INSTITUTION THAT OFFERS A WIDE RANGE OF ACTIVITIES What are the most common themes that connect them and their counterparts? — Austrian artists and their Serbian counterparts of course share themes that are currently common to the whole of Europe and the world – globalization, migration,

environment protection, climate change… There are also topics that are more specific to this region, such as themes deriving from our common history. Here I do not refer only to the political history, but mainly to the cultural exchange that has been very intensive since the 17th century and that never ceased to exist even during the period when diplomatic relations between our two countries were not as excellent as they are today.

How much the work of the Austrian cultural forum was affected by improvement of our overall bilateral relations? — Since the Austrian Cultural Forum was founded in 2001, parallel to the improvement of our bilateral relations, the cooperation with Serbian partners has been very intensive and fruitful. After more than 15 years of continuous work, we have managed to position ourselves on the mental map of cultural stakeholders in Serbia and we are happy to be able to say that the number of projects that we carry out or take part in continues to rise every year. We are also pleased that we are not only present in the capital of Serbia, but in many other Serbian cities as well.



KOMERC PROGRES was established in 1991. on the basis of family craft workshops that manufactured parts for bikes, cars and transportation systems


oday, 27 years of establishment, KOMERC PROGRES is a modern company that has a well-coordinated, high quality and professional team that is able to adapt to market conditions the best way to meet the requirements of business partners. Top quality at a reasonable price is the guiding idea for KOMERC PROGRES. According to that, we constantly present, to our business partners in Serbia and the environment, manufacturers who were not represented and whose products are exclusively of high quality. Implemented IMS-integrated quality management system which includes ISO 9001, ISO 14001 i BS OHSAS 18001 certified by PARTNERS CERTIFICATE ASSURANCE (PCA), modern equipment, office and warehouse space, more than 27 years of experience and hard work of everyone is a guarantee of reliability of KOMERC PROGRES. A special advantage of KOMERC PROGRES, compared to other companies that offer a similar range of high quality products, is more than 6000 items of stock available to users in any part of the day. We are especially proud of the fact that we are the first from Serbia and the environment who identified several world class manufacturer of roll bear-


ings, equipment and tools, and got the confidence to present them to users. The most important among them are NKE Austria GmbH, RKB EUROPE SA Switzerland, A&S FERSA Spain, TOPTUL Taiwan. NKE Austria GmbH is a bearing manufacturer headquartered in Steyr, Austria. Founded in 1996 by a group of senior staff members of former company Steyr Wälzlager, NKE produces standard and special bearings for all



HEADQUARTER INDJIJA Cara Dusana 17, 22320 Indjija Serbia, Phone: +381(0)22 551 616 Fax: +381(0)22 551 292, Email:,

industrial applications. The RKB Bearing Industries Group is the Swiss manufacturing organization which has been operating in the bearing industry since 1936, focused on heavy industry and special projects. In the segment of medium-sized and large bearings, RKB is globally present. The Balerna and Milano warehouse, worth more than 50 million euros , is available within a few days. TOPTUL products are characterized by superior quality because the production is based on knowledge, ability and strict quality control and all international requirements, prescribed by ANSI and DIN standards, are achieved and exceeded up to double values. In order to establish and continuously maintain the highest quality of products or materials from which they produced a constant cooperation with professional institutions and organizations is needed. KOMERC PROGRES does products quality checks in cooperation with: • Institute for Materials Testing Belgrade • Quality AD Nis • The Institute for Precious Metals • Accredited laboratory for testing of ball bearings FKL Temerin • Accredited metrology and other laboratories.

BRANCH OFFICE BELGRADE Karadjordjeva 61, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia Phone: +381(0)11 263 0266 Mob: +381(0)63 518 499 AUSTRIA 2018




EX PLURIBUS UNUM J Eastern Germanic Kingdom that’s not only Germanic — Text —

Žikica Milošević




ust be one of us, accept the language and the values, Austrians say, so you can become a Nowotny, Dschulnigg, Swarowski or Eszterhazy, and still be a full-blooded Austrian. Austria's culture is comprises of many influences, forming a delicious and harmoniuos mosaic; liberal and truly conservative at the same time.

Not many countries in Europe are so ethnically diverse, yet culturally monolithic as Austria. Austria is, like the neighbouring Hungary, characterised by the adoption of German language and Austrian values. It is so easy to become an Austrian. Although, this enrages certain infamous compatriots, it thrills all of us: just be one of us, the Austrians say. Yet, this is still a country with a strong national identity.

MELTING POT OF MITTELEUROPA Every country has its own „rival country“, or a „rival province“ which opposes the monolithic narrative, and where „anything goes“. They frequently end up in different states, or at least, poke fun at each other relentlessly. Romania has Moldova, where ethnic Latins speaking almost Romanian (Moldavian is pretty much the same), freely mix with the Russians, Ukrainians, Gagauz and Bulgarians, while speaking few languages at the same time. Serbia has Vojvodina, Croatia has Istria, Ukraine has Odeschyna, and Germany has Austria. Both speak German and from time to time want to unite or separate. Despite fighting over the unification of the German speaking countries for many centuries, they ended up as two countries. Austria being the merry one, where anyone can become an Austrian, where the prime minister can be Krajsky, where the best football players are named Prochaska or Sindelar, and where the best scientists and artists are called Kokoschka, Mozart or Freud. Welcome to the melting pot of Mitteleuropa!

THE VERY CENTRE OF THE CONTINENT Austrian culture has largely been in-

got new ideas and the inspiration for their most famous works from travelling. Austrian culture is universal. When Haydn went to live in England, Mozart remarked that Haydn didn’t even speak English. Haydn replied: "The whole world understands my language."


AUSTRIA IS STILL FAMOUS FOR ITS CABARETS. THE CABARET SCENE HAS A SPECIAL CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE IN AUSTRIA fluenced by its past and present neighbours: Italy, Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia and its many nationalities, from Slovenes and Croats, who live there as minorities today, to the less visible and more assimilated ones. High-level culture, which includes the culture of everyday life, a special lifestyle, culinary specialties... All of these are the result of diverse influences from the east and west, north and south. Austria has always been building bridges and a meeting place for different nations and cultures in Europe. Austria’s music is a fine example: the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt or Gustav Mahler would have been inconceivable in their final form if these composers had not travelled much during their lives. The audiences in big European cities were not only fascinated by their musical works, but the composers also

Austria is still famous for its cabarets. The cabaret scene has a special cultural significance in Austria. It has managed to develop its own flair between comedy, theatre and entertainment as a part of cultural event, usually covering political or everyday topics, sometimes having critical content, and using its own Austrian humor which is country-specific in this form. The famous cabaret artists today include Lukas Resetarits, Josef Hader, Alfred Dorfer, Roland Düringer and Alf Poier, some of whom have appeared on cabaret stages for decades and are well-received in the German-speaking countries too. Historically, Austria has had a long cabaret tradition that was abruptly halted between 1938 and 1945 when the cabaret also mourned the huge loss of Fritz Grünbaum who died in the Dachau concentration camp. The Salzburg Bull is the top Austrian cabaret prize.

EAT THE MIX! If you want to eat well – you are in the right place! The Austrian dishes are a mix of the Germanic and Habsburg influences. The Austrian cuisine - especially the Viennese one – is squeezed between the South German cuisine (before that the Bavarian) and the cooking tradition of the states that made the Austro-Hungarian Empire.






ANCIENT CRADLE Scary, colourful remnants of the past





ustria, just like the vast area of Central and Eastern Eruope and the Alps, is one of the cradles of the local traditions that might be traced back thousands of years ago. They are perfectly incorporated into modern world and into, even more suprisingly, Christianit. The central and eastern Alps are rich in folklore traditions dating back to pre-Christian times, with surviving elements amalgamated from Germanic, Gaulish (Gallo-Roman), Slavic, (Carantanian) and Raetian culture. With such an admixture, they can only be merry, even in a scary way! The high regional diversity results from the mutual isolation of the Alpine communities. In the Alps, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and paganism has been an ambivalent one. While some customs survived only in the remote valleys inaccessible to the church's influence, other customs were actively assimilated over the centuries. In light of the dwindling rural population of the Alps, many customs have evolved into more modern interpretations.

KRAMPUS FOR THE BAD KIDS One of the most interesting figures is definitely Krampus, the Father Christmas' helper. A bad one! Actually, in Russia they have a good helper, Snowhite, who gives presents to good children, in addition to many other good helpers like gnomes, elves etc. But the Alpine-Austrian tradition is a bit scary - they are aimed at keeping keep kids from doing bad deeds and mischief. That's what Krampus is for. In folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as "half-goat,

half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast to Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several regions including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Northern Italy including South Tyrol, Slovakia and Slovenia. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulat-

IN AN EFFORT TO SCARE THEM, PARENTS TEND TO TELL THEIR CHILDREN THAT NOT ONLY THAT THEY WILL NOT GET THEIR PRESENTS BUT THEY WILL ALSO BE PUNISHED BY GETTING BAD OR GIMMICKY PRESENTS, OR BE PUNISHED IN GENERAL ed it as having pre-Christian origins. In an effort to scare them, parents tend to tell their children that not only that they will not get their presents but they will also be punished by getting bad or gimmicky presents, or be punished in general. Well done for doing this in today's world where everything is tolerated to the extreme! Young men dressed as Krampus take part in traditional parades and such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run). Such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

In Styria, Krampus presents Ruten bundles to families. The twigs are painted gold and displayed year-round in the house—a reminder to any child who has temporarily forgotten Krampus. In the smaller, more isolated villages, the figure has other beastly companions, such as the antlered "wild man" figures, while St Nicholas is nowhere to be seen. These Styrian companions of Krampus are called Schabmänner or Rauhen. A toned-down version of Krampus is part of the popular Christmas outdoor markets in Austrian towns like Salzburg. In these towns, Krampus is more humorous than fearsome, and more tourist-friendly.

PERCHTEN There is more! There are more interesting figures in Austria with one of them being Perchten. Originally, the word Perchten (plural of Perchta) referred to female masks representing the entourage of an ancient goddess, Frau Perchta, or Pehta Baba as it is known in Slovenia. Some claim a connection to the Nordic goddess Freyja, though this is uncertain. Traditionally, the masks were displayed in processions (Perchtenlauf) during the last week of December and first week of January, and particularly on 6th January. The costume consists of a brown wooden mask and brown or white sheep's skin. In recent times, Krampus and Perchten have increasingly been displayed in single events, which made them difficult to distinct from one another. Perchten is associated with midwinter and the embodiment of fate and the souls of the dead. The name originates from the Old High German word peraht ("brilliant" or "bright").






LANDLOCKED SUPERPOWER Knowing the power of presentation


t is important how you present yourself. Maybe you don't have a coastline anymore, but that does not matter much - you have spectacular mountains, castles, cute towns tucked away on the hills, Baroque and Classicism, good food... It also simply does not matter if you are not as cheerful as the neighbouring Czech Republic or Italy. Maybe your beer inns will close at 10PM, but the people will still be enchanted by your country. Tourism in Austria is an important part of the country's economy as it has a 9% share in the nation's gross domestic product. In 2007, for instance, the total number of tourist overnight stays was about the same in summer and in winter, with peaks in February, as well as in July and August.




Last year, Austria yet again topped the list in terms of tourist visits and tourism revenue. It currently occupies the 9th place in the world in regard to tourism revenue which stands at $18.9 billion. When it comes to international tourist arrivals, Austria ranks 12th with 20.08


million tourists. Vienna is the tourist hotspot, both in summer and winter. Salzburg records 1/5 of overnight stays as Vienna, and remains the second most visited tourist destination in summer months. In winter, many towns and villages in the Western Austria exceed Salzburg in terms of overnight stays, including Zelden, Zalbah-Hinterglem, Isgl, Sankt Anton am Arlberg and Obertauern. Visiting Austria traditionally includes touring Vienna and seeing its cathedral, and indulging in wine tasting and romantic events with the Waltz backdrop. It is also worth visiting Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, Innsbruck, the capital of Tirol surrounded by the Alps, and the Danube with its wine-growing regions

an lakes. For those visitors who are interested in media art, there is Ars Electronica Center in Linz. From sunny lake beaches to glacier rocks, from picturesque vineyards to romantic pine forests, from mild mountain pastures to river islands, the Austrian region offers something for everyone. The top notch ski slopes, tours of snow-covered mountains, and romantic winter landscapes mean that skiers, snowboarders and fans of mild winter have the ideal conditions in Austria. Those tourists who love cities are also well-catered for. It is interesting to note that, during summer, Austria usually has more overnight stays than in winter. Last year, the country recorded 17 million tourists in winter months with 64.5 million overnight stays. In the summer period, there were 20 million tourists and 67.2 million overnight stays. The total tourism revenue that Austria generates EUR 22.7 billion, of which EUR 12.7 billion is generated in the winter, which is a bit more than in the summer months, because guests of higher purchasing power come here to ski and consequentially spend more money than on summer tours of cities and mountains. Just like the neighbouring Switzerland, like Wachau or Dunkelsteinerwald. In the western part of the country, in the province of Vorarlberg, there is a beautiful lake called Constance, while in the eastern part, there is Neusiedler Lake. The three most popular sights in Austria are the Schรถnbrunn Palace with 2,590,000 visitors a year, the Tiergarten Schรถnbrunn Zoo with 2,453,987 and the Mariazell Basilica with 1,500,000 visitors. Skiing, hiking and mountaineering in the Alps are of great importance, as are family recreation and visits to numerous Austri-


The table below shows the growth of the number of foreign visitors to Austria year-on-year Rank Country 1 Germany 2 Netherlands 3 Switzerland 4 Italy 5 United Kingdom 6 China 7 Czech Republic 8 United States 9 France 10 Belgium 11 Hungary 12 Poland 13 Spain 14 Denmark 15 Russia 16 South Korea 17 Romania 18 Japan 19 Sweden 20 Slovakia

2014 11,750,027 1,671,581 1,309,660 1,051,490 802,552 497,925 660,086 632,512 516,770 514,264 493,055 425,730 309,794 264,704 467,565 234,557 264,704 245,306 205,501 176,760

2015 12,134,836 1,734,453 1,400,251 1,122,936 875,664 715,119 711,351 708,233 517,708 514,329 501,595 456,615 348,768 331,507 313,406 277,032 275,806 236,621 224,258 194,186

Total foreign visitors 2014: 25,291,371 2015: 26,718,945

Austria has also learned how to do this. Switzerland and Austria are both landlocked, but they know how to profit from tourism. Croatia is very keen to emulate Austria, as all of the landlocked countries are, including Serbia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. More specifically, Austria has 2.5 times higher tourism revenue than Croatia, despite the fact that it does not offer sun & sea type of holidays. Does that mean that there's hope for us too? Yes! The Austrians have made an effort to create attractive non-accommodation services so the summer season in the mountains lasts for seven months. The secret, as the Austrians claim, is in detail. Large investments cannot wait for more than 5 years. The tourist offer has to be refreshed continuously because the first satisfied customer will make it all financially justifiable, the Austrians swear. So, are you still surprised that Austria is a tourist superpower?






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InFocus Austria 2018  
InFocus Austria 2018