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March 2020 | ISSUE No. 49 | Price 350 RSD

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Business in the Age of Corona

Last week, my editor-in-chief Tanja reminded me several times that I had to write an editorial piece. I procrastinated on purpose every day just to be as up-to-date as possible. This March, it’s going to be exactly four years since we launched Diplomacy & Commerce, and in those four years, never have I encountered a situation like this one. To us, who have been working and living in this area for a few decades now, everything today is reminiscent of 1999, the year when NATO bombed us, or 2014, the year of major floods. Although, conferences, festivals and trips have been cancelled or postponed to the second half of May and many advertising campaigns have been stopped, newsstands, on the other hand, are reporting that magazine sales have increased since the outbreak of coronavirus. Our company has been the media sponsor of the Serbian Olympic Committee since 2006. We were in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. Since the Second World War, never have we had a situation where we don’t know if the Olympic Games will happen at all. It remains to be seen if they will take place in Tokyo in July and August this year. I often quote Churchill’s "Business as usual" as my and our company's motto. Granted, the present time is not usual, but the business is.



An anti-corruption campaigner triumphs in Slovakia



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Summit diplomacy


A series of unfortunate events




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A Different Kind of Populism An anti-corruption campaigner triumphs in Slovakia LAST MONTH Sviňa (“Swine”), a thinly veiled cinematic portrait of Slovakia’s venal political class, opened to record-breaking crowds. At an election on February 29th Slovakia’s voters proved similarly motivated, turning out in large numbers to kick out Smer, a left-wing party whose 12 almost unbroken years in office had become a byword for corruption and complacency. The winner, with 25% of the vote, was Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO), a vaguely centre-right outfit that vows to clean up politics. OLaNO was established a decade ago as a vehicle for the political career of Igor Matovič, a media baron turned anti-corruption firebrand with a penchant for publicity stunts. A skilled campaigner, Mr Matovič focused on expanding his base across Slovakia under the slogan “Let’s beat the mafia together,” while sidestepping potentially divisive issues like abortion and immigration. “A lot of people wanted to show off their anger, and Matovič was able to portray himself as a respectable figurehead for this feeling,” says Aneta Vilagi, a political scientist at Comenius University in Bratislava. Mr Matovič’s success had much to do with the murder, in February 2018, of Jan Kuciak, a young journalist probing links between pol-



iticians, oligarchs and organised crime. The killing triggered huge protests that led to the resignation of Robert Fico, the Smer prime minister, and the election as president of Zuzana Čaputova, a former environmental activist. The trial of an oligarch accused of ordering Kuciak’s murder, which began in January and continues, has exposed an alleged grubby network of co-operation between crooked politicians, judges and law-enforcement officials. All this created fertile ground for OLaNO. One-third of voters said corruption was the most important issue. Mr Matovič’s 53 MPs, some of whom he is rumoured not to know, are a heterogenous bunch, including social conservatives brought in to appeal to Slovakia’s rural Catholic heartlands. His proposed four-party coalition, which includes right-wing nationalists, also looks unwieldy. All are united in opposing graft; less so on tax or social policy. Yet Eduard Heger, an OLaNO MP tipped to become finance minister, says his party will aim to bring “dramatic change” to public services. “This”, he adds, “will be the best government Slovakia ever had.” From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com





Elections Haven’t Jeopardized Reforms

Progress in structural reform implementation has been mixed. The modernization of tax administration and the privatization of the largest state-owned bank proved to be a success. Yet progress has been slow in other areas and the new government will have to push further investment management framework, the privatization of the largest state-owned bank, and tackling shortcomings in anti-money laundering. But progress has been slow in other areas. The reforms of the public wage system and public employment framework have faced substantial delays. More decisive actions are also needed to resolve problematic SOEs such as Petrohemija and to strengthen professional management and corporate governance in public enterprises.

SEBASTIAN SOSA IMF Resident Representative in Belgrade

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Jan Kees Martijn, which recently visited Belgrade (February 24–28, 2020) left the country with mostly satisfied with the results achieved in reforms in 2019, and discussed policy priorities for 2020. A full mission for the fourth review under the PCI is planned for the second half of May at the time when the new government will be probably already formed. The Mission concluded that Serbia’s macroeconomic performance remained robust in 2019, with growth estimated at 4.2 percent, and unemployment at historically-low levels, with steady growth of wages, low inflation and resilient financial sector with non-performing loans falling to 4.1 percent in December 2019. The Mission noted that fiscal performance has remained strong and that prospects for 2020 are positive, with growth projected at 4 percent and inflation expected to stay within the lower half of the target band. However, the reports read that risks are elevated, especially on the external front, and an important structural reform agenda remains. In this context, the mission stressed the need to fully implement the reforms committed under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) to cement macroeconomic gains and boost Serbia’s growth potential. The job is far from completed and considerable efforts will be required by the next government if I wants to complete the reform agenda and ensure a faster income convergence and a reduction in living standard gaps vis-à-vis Western Europe, says Sebastian Sosa, IMF Resident Representative in Belgrade to whom we spoke after the latest IMF visit.


Given the overall achievements, how would you describe the results of the current government?

More will be known in the second half of May when a full mission for the fourth review under the PCI comes to Belgrade again. How would you assess the pace at which the government has

been implementing the reforms lately?

— Progress in structural reform implementation has been mixed. Good progress has been made towards the modernization of tax administration, enhancing the public


— The results on the macroeconomic front have been very good. Economic activity expanded, with annual growth averaging 4.2 percent in the past two years, while unemployment declined to historically-low levels, with steady growth of wages. Investment levels have increased significantly, supported by strong foreign direct investment and higher public capital expenditures. A strong fiscal position has put public debt on a declining path, with yields on government securities at record-low levels. Moreover, inflation have remained low and stable while the resilience of the financial sector has also improved, with the ratio of bank non-performing loans falling to about 4 percent. Overall, these are strong macroeconomic results. Results in terms of implementation of the structural reform agenda have been mixed, as mentioned before, with progress in some areas but delays in others. Bearing in mind that elections will take place in Serbia soon, which is, by definition, a time when governments are not keen to make bold moves, when do you think the recommendations from your latest visit might be implemented?

— The upcoming election has not prevented some bold moves. For


instance, in February an agreement was reached with NLB for the sale of Komercijalna Banka. This privatization represents a key milestone of the state-owned financial institutions reform agenda. Other recommendations from the November program review mission have been implemented during the pre-election period. For example, the introduction of pension indexation based on the so-called Swiss formula and the electricity tariff increase recently adopted. Other measures are expected to be completed in the course of 2020, and preparatory work is ongoing—for example on the design of a new set of fiscal rules, an enhanced framework to monitor fiscal risks, a new ownership policy document for stateowned enterprises, and the reforms of the public sector wage system and employment frameworks. As you have publicly mentioned, the reforms were particularly slow in public companies. Where are the biggest obstacles – at the administration or the company level?

— These reforms are important to unlock Serbia’s growth potential but are also not easy to implement as they affect vested interests, especially in the case of the large public utility companies. Significant efforts are needed by both the public administration and the companies to adopt measures to strengthen corporate governance

and professional management. Decisive actions by the government are also required to complete the privatization process. For instance, the privatization of Petrohemija, which has faced long delays, should be promptly undertaken, as fiscal risks stemming from the company are sizeable. How this unfinished job relates to the overall goal of faster growth?

compared to other countries in the region, so the payoffs of these reforms could be sizeable. To what extent are civil servant salaries a challenge to sustainable fiscal discipline?

— Regarding public sector wages, we understand the need to grant larger increases to some categories of workers that are relatively underpaid and could thus be moving to the private sector or leaving

IMPROVING CREDIT RATINGS REQUIRES SOLID PUBLIC FINANCES AND HIGH GROWTH. TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL, IT IS CRITICAL TO FURTHER IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE AND SUPPORT PRIVATE SECTOR GROWTH — Promptly advancing these reforms is essential to transform these companies into modern, efficient entities that can positively contribute to economic growth in Serbia. A recent IMF study indicates that Serbia ranks poorly in terms of governance of stateowned enterprises, both against OECD best practices and compared to other countries in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. This is due to several factors, such as a weak ownership policy; lack of adequate financial oversight; and a weak role of boards of directors. Moreover, the size of the SOE sector is relatively large in Serbia

the country. Examples are nurses and doctors as well as IT experts. Hoverer, the overall wage bill has been growing faster than nominal GDP for two years in a row. While these wage increases do not jeopardize fiscal sustainability at this point, they may create expectations of large increases in the future, which will not be sustainable. The introduction of new fiscal rules, including a ceiling on the wage bill as a percent of GDP, would be important to ensure fiscal sustainability. Restraint in public wage increases will also help to ensure the fiscal space needed to increase pro-growth

spending such as investment in infrastructure. Aside from the challenges related to public sector, what would you outline as the most important tasks if Serbia wants to get an investment rating?

— Improving credit ratings requires not only solid public finances but also high potential growth. To achieve this goal, it is critical to further improve the business climate and support private sector growth. This implies, in addition to tackling infrastructure gaps and improving the efficiency of public administration and the quality of public services, reducing the size of the informal sector as well as addressing skills shortages and mismatches in the labor market. A favorable business environment also requires stronger rule of law and improved contract enforceability, reduced corruption, and a more efficient and independent judicial system. Which of these tasks would have to wait for the new government to be elected?

— Progress has been made in some structural reform areas. But the job is far from completed and continued efforts will be required by the next government to complete the reform agenda, which is crucial to ensure a faster income convergence and a reduction in living standard gaps vis-à-vis Western Europe.



in March & April


Serbian Passport Getting Better – Now 39




HUNGARY 1848 Revolution Da


IRELAND St. Patrick's Day


TUNISIA Independence Day


NAMIBIA Independence Day



According the the latest Henley Passport Index (updated January 2020), Serbia has the 39th best passport in the world (with the score 133 – which means the holders of the Serbian passport can enter 133 countries or territories with no visa required or visa is issued at the border or beforehand as e-visa, generally obtained by everyone without serious legal problems).

For orientation, here are the positions of some passports in the area: Greece 8th (score 184), Slovakia and Hungary 10th (181), Slovenia 11th (180), Romania 17th (172), Bulgaria 18th (171), Croatia 20th (169), Ukraine 43rd (128), Montenegro 46th (124), Northern Macedonia 47th (123), Moldova 49th (120), Russia 51st (118), Bosnia-Herzegovina 52nd (117), Georgia 53rd (116), Albania 54th (114), Kosovo 99th (score 40) of 107

Declaration Day

(many positions are shared). The first three countries with the best passports are all from the stable Far East: Japan 1st (191), Singapore 2nd (190), South Korea 3rd. (189). The last three countries (the three worst passports) are from the Middle and Middle East, from socalled “failed states”, which are in the state of civil war or not fully controlling its territory: Syria 105th (29), Iraq 106th (28), Afghanistan 107th (26).


GREECE Independence Day


BANGLADESH Independence Day


MALTA Freedom Day

APRIL VANYA PANAYOTOVA New General Manager of L'ORÉAL the Adria-Balkan Region


Vanya Panayotova has been appointed the new General Manager of L'Oréal for the Adria-Balkan region, including Serbia. She replaced Brigitte Streller in this position at the beginning of March. Ms Streller will now assume a new position in the L'Oréal Group after 15 years of successful leadership in the region. Vanya Panayotova is currently the General Manager of L'Oréal Romania and her responsibilities extend to the countries of the Adria-Balkan region, namely Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and other export markets. Vanya is a Bulgarian citizen and has had a rich career spanning 20

years in the consumer goods sector and running multinationals and large companies. She began her career at Procter & Gamble, then moved to Mondelez International, where she was promoted while working in the markets of Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She came to Romania in 2017 as the CEO of Orbico, and in 2018, she joined the L'Oréal Group as the General Manager of L'Oréal Romania. With proven business success and exceptional knowledge of countries in the region, Vanya will use the best practices to contribute to the continued success and growth of L'Oréal's market share in all the countries she is now in charge of.


GUINEA Independence Day


SYRIA National Day


NETHERLANDS  ational Day N (King’s Day)






Realistic Approach Over the past four years, we have tried to talk about the current topics in a realistic way. We have covered various topics that are of great importance for society through numerous articles and analyses We stepped onto the Serbian media scene exactly four years ago with the idea of being different from everything we were offered at that time. We had to devise a concept that would attract attention and therefore be sustainable in the long run. Over the past four years, Diplomacy&Commerce magazine has not only attracted attention but has become a leader


in terms of the quality of its content. Through interviews with representatives of various groups (politics, diplomacy, society, economy, business, culture, media, etc.), we tried to talk about the current topics in a realistic way. We have covered various topics that are of great importance for society through numerous articles and analyses. We did not favour anyone but were open to cooperating

with everyone who could contribute in any way to the progress of our society. It is for these reasons that we have equally good cooperation with the representatives of the world of politics, diplomacy, international institutions, culture, sports, etc. Just like in the previous three editions, this time around we have also asked the representatives of the authorities, diplomatic

We are witnessing numerous political and social turbulence that can cause political and social order to be modified not only globally but also in Serbia. To what extent can these developments slow or halt the EU integration process?

corps, international institutions, business associations, media and many others to express their views on the possible re-arrangement of power in the world, the European and regional political scene, the influences on Serbia's accession to the EU, economic development, investments in culture, and as an inevitable question this year, elections which are taking place in many countries, including Serbia.

Parliamentary elections will take place soon, with a part of the opposition announcing an election boycott. Is such an approach a mitigating or aggravating circumstance for the governing structure?


President of the National Assembly of Serbia

It is a fact that we live in the period of global changes and processes that pose great challenges to Europe and the world, and our region, as a part of Europe, shares the same problems and challenges as all other European countries. Having regard to all of this and fully understanding recent developments and priorities on the agenda of the EU presidency, we believe that the new European Commission will continue pursuing the enlargement policy through some concrete steps. It must be noted that the enlargement policy and a clear EU integration perspective is important not just for our region, but for Europe as a whole. This is why we expect the forthcoming


EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb, as well as the “Conference on the Future of Europe” to bring positive steps forward with regard to further E enlargement. This needs to increase the EU accession negotiations’ dynamics and remove the uncertainty for all of us who are in this process. Moreover, it is crucial to emphasise that the reforms we are undertaking on our path towards the EU, even when difficult, are notably implemented in the interest of all our citizens. We are going to have regular parliamentary and local elections and as this term of office of the Parliament is closing to an end, allow me to underline that through

our diligent work and commitment we have adopted over 600 laws and over 280 other acts. Thereby we have improved numerous areas in our society and made some important steps towards establishing a favourable business environment, building infrastructure, reduction of unemployment, and creation of prerequisites for a better situation in healthcare, education, administration. I am particularly proud of the fact that we will end this term of office with the adoption of the Law on the Origin of Property. This has all contributed to making Serbia a financially stable country today, with a significant economic growth and foreign investments influx. With regard to the forthcoming elections, it is first of all important to emphasise that through the Inter-Party Dialogue we have improved every single aspect of the election process, as compared to previous election cycles. The Serbian Parliament has adopted amendments to the laws that reduce the electoral threshold from 5% to 3%, which provides an opportunity for a significantly increase in the

Parliament’s representativeness. For the Serbian Progressive Party, the lower threshold will result in fewer seats in the Parliament, but this proposal was supported because we believe it contributes to development of the political life within the institutions. We have adopted laws preventing misuse of public resources during the election campaign, as well as the proposal of an opposition MP, Ms Gordana Čomić, to increase the number of women in electoral lists to 40%. The Supervisory Board has been established for the first time, we have elected new members to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM), in line with the 3+2 formula we agreed upon in the Dialogue, and also improved the work of the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK), all for the purpose of a better control over the election process. This indicates that all the conditions for fair and free elections are in place, and the fact that some politicians still do not wish to stand for elections only indicates that they are afraid of the election results reflecting people’s opinion.



We are witnessing numerous political and social turbulence that can cause political and social order to be modified not only globally but also in Serbia. To what extent can these developments slow or halt the EU integration process?

Parliamentary elections will take place soon, with a part of the opposition announcing an election boycott. Is such an approach a mitigating or aggravating circumstance for the governing structure?


Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure

There is no dilemma that the European Union is Serbia's final destination and that the future of our country and citizens is in the EU. The speed of Serbia's accession to the EU certainly depends on the pace of reforms and implementation of standards that Brussels has set for us, but undoubtedly, a lot more depends on resolving the Kosovo issue. That is why reaching a compromise solution for Kosovo will not only bring a solution to the historical relations between the Serbs and the Albanians, but will also determine the future of our country. Only a

politically stable, economically powerful and militarily neutral Serbia can properly resolve the issue of Kosovo and therefore any kind of populism, false patriotism and misunderstanding of the world in which we live can do great harm to Serbia.

I have said a long time ago that the boycott would fail. The latest decision by the local opposition leaders to abandon the idea of a boycott is only the finale of a badly directed show. It's not the case that the leaders of the Alliance for Serbia don't want to participate in the election because the election con-

ditions are unfair, but rather they know that they cannot get enough support from voters and that they will lose the elections. In Serbia, citizens choose their government

in an election, not on the street, and our country, which is working towards the EU accession, cannot afford the luxury of breaking democratic rules.


Global trends are called 'global' because they affect everyone; it is only a matter of scope and depth of change. We are on the threshold of major transformational changes at the global level, primarily in the domain of new forms of socio-economic development that also require a corresponding change in political action. This change needs to be global and orderly so that everybody can be potential winners. The reform process carried out by this and the previous Government, in synergy with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, has demonstrated in an up-to-date and far-reaching way, that we realized what has been 'brewing' on a

global scale, and quickly prepared ourselves, mostly through the axis of the European integration process in order to be successful participants in that great change so that our citizens can benefit. These demanding reforms were a good test of the maturity of Serbian citizens, and even though they have been implemented always and everywhere in Serbia and have been rather unpopular and not easy, citizen support for a development platform formulated by the Government and the ruling party in synergy with the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić has been consistently good and even growing. Therefore, with the active con-

solidation of the EU as our most important partner, and the defined enlargement policy, which is a pillar of effective transformation in the EU and boosting its competitiveness, I believe that Serbia's path to the EU accession, as a leading framework for our development, will continue for the benefit of all – Serbia, the EU, Member States, our and the EU citizens. Elections are an instrument and test of democracy in which everyone has their responsibilities, to vote and to be elected. Some parts of the opposition, but not all, have decided to deny themselves the right to be elected and the right to be elected for some citizens. This is an irresponsible and essentially undemocratic policy. The ruling party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), has shown that it is ready for dialogue with anyone from the Serbian political spectrum who

actually wanted to engage in dialogue. Several rounds of dialogue on improving electoral conditions took place under the auspices of the EP and many things were harmonized and implemented, as a result. Undoubtedly, the electoral conditions in this election cycle are now better than ever. Besides, the SNS' initiative to reduce the electoral threshold from 5 to 3 per cent, shows to what extent we are aware that the welfare economics, which we, as in the SNS, and the Government have managed to implement for the benefit of citizens, obliges us to expand the horizontal of participation of all relevant representatives of different political ideas and interests. I expect the citizens to recognize that and to support the inclusive, democratic and prosperous policies that the SNS, as the backbone of the Government, and President Vučić lead and offer to the citizens of Serbia.




We are witnessing numerous political and social turbulence that can cause political and social order to be modified not only globally but also in Serbia. To what extent can these developments slow or halt the EU integration process?

Parliamentary elections will take place soon, with a part of the opposition announcing an election boycott. Is such an approach a mitigating or aggravating circumstance for the governing structure?


Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government

The EU integration is an irreversible process that is important for our country with the view of adopting standards and building institutions that resemble those in the EU, as well as to bring our democratic values to life in the right way, but also to change the mentality that "we are not yet ready to fight against certain prejudices and stereotypes". The ongoing reforms in the EU should further motivate and encourage us to work even harder to meet our defined goals in order to become part of the EU family. For instance, the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government has been coordinating the implementation of the public administration reform that aims to create a government that is tailored to the needs of all citizens, namely to be more helpful, pro-

fessional and modern. That road is paved with a revised regulatory framework which we have managed to create thanks to numerous results. There is no going back now. We can only provide better services to our citizens from now on. Great concessions have been made and almost all of the opposition's demands regarding electoral conditions have been accepted. As the line minister, I can say, in all responsibility, that the Single Electoral Roll (SER) has never been more up-to-date, and is getting more up-to-date with every passing day. As a ministry, we do our job very responsibly, and we have been carrying out the "fine-tuning" of SER because we want to get as close as possible to the electoral roll that is fully updated. We are doing our best to make the SER

the most orderly database here, and I can confidently say that the SER cannot, in any way, be the cause of any kind of electoral manipulation. I also think that the election boycott is a cowardly act that will serve as an alibi to a small part of the opposition for their own

failures. The opposition’s haste and reckless moves, as well as the attempt to change the governing coalition, which enjoys the predominant support of the citizens of Serbia, in an extra-institutional manner, has put them in a noway-out situation of their own choosing.


What impact do fast changes on the global level have on your work, and how can Serbia respond to the refugee crisis?

— Since its foundation four years ago, the readers of Diplomacy and Commerce have shown interest and support to the work of the UN Refugee Agency in Serbia. Like diplomacy and commerce, refugee issues are international in nature, as are the legal and practical solutions to the problems that refugees face. International solidarity with refugees and with the countries that host them, remains crucial in


saving lives and in providing the conditions refugees need to contribute to the common good. For over half a century, UNHCR has helped millions of people to restart their lives primarily thanks to international solidarity and understanding. Successful leaders in business, diplomacy, or governance recognize the knowledge and resourcefulness that refugees bring to their companies and factories, schools and universities, towns and cities. Ever since the UN Refugee Agency opened offices in Belgrade

in 1976, we have been enjoying close cooperation with authorities, civil society, the public, business and diplomatic community, many of whom are also donors to our program. Over the past five years that I have been Representative in Serbia, UNHCR and partners have assisted a swift and comprehensive response to the refugee crisis of 2015-2016, in improving the national asylum system, and in the integration of refugees, internally displaced persons, or persons at risk of statelessness. Implementation of the Regional Housing Programme for refugees from ex-Yugoslavia accelerated, while we also supported authorities and civil society in introducing innovative models of protection-sensitive care for unaccompanied and separated refugee children, as well as

survivors of violence, torture and trauma. Especially in times of too much fear and fake news, we must remain cognizant of the fact that any society is only as strong as its weakest member. Serbia has made progress in implementing more of its obligations as a party to the 1951 Refuge Convention and other international treaties, whose full implementation also constitute conditions for European integration. With all your support, Serbia can complete this process by starting to grant recognized refugees permanent residency and due access to naturalization, proper identity and travel documents, to health care, employment and self-employment. Now more than ever, we need international cooperation and solidarity.



We Have Conquered the Ammunition Market The backbone of our turnkey service and manufacturing activities is the construction of complex infrastructure, facilities and complete factories based on our technology. The Despot vehicle and the RS 9 pistol (Vampire), which is the product of our engineers, best testify to what we can do SLAVENKO RISTIĆ Director General, Tehnički Remont Bratunac (TRB)

“Undoubtedly, Tehnički Remont Bratunac /TRB/ is easily recognizable in the defence and civilian sector,” says Slavenko Ristić, the company’s director general. “TRB has received true recognition and is represented in the global market. We have participated in the five most influential trade fairs in the world - in Abu Dhabi, Paris, London, Egypt and Belgrade. Our presentation at these trade shows has attracted a lot of attention and this has greatly helped us to get new contracts, as well as to position ourselves on both the national and international market,” says Mr Ristić and adds: In the last five years, we have invested a lot of ideas and knowhow in marketing activities, in order to bring this company, which has been operational for 60 years and is the industry’s former giant, back to life and to restore the interest and the references that we once had. We have created a recognizable company and brand with the resources and the effort we put in, and with the help of our young employees who give their best every day at work.”

Which products and services do you consider most important for further market penetration? — In terms of our product port-

folio, which we are continuously expanding, developing and modernizing, I would like to single out ammunition production lines as the most attractive. The backbone of our turnkey service and manufacturing activities is the construction of complex infrastructure, facilities and complete factories based on our technology. We are conquering new technologies in our industry daily, and this is something that is most profitable in TRB. Currently, the Despot vehicle best testifies to what we can do and has generated a lot of interest. We have delivered a couple of these vehicles to the Government of the Republic of Srpska and we continue to cooperate with them.

We are also exporting to the Namibian market, and quite a lot of countries are interested in the RS 9 (Vampire) pistol, which is the product of our engineers and designers. We are continuing with our operations in this direction.

Transparency is very important for your scope of work. What principles do you adhere to in this area?

— The arms industry has always been kept under wraps. For the last 40-50 years, it has not been popular to talk about this topic as most of it was considered a state secret. Since we are a company that is 80 per cent privately owned, we strive to be completely transparent


and to publicly reveal everything we do and make it accessible to everyone, including the media. Of course, we are doing this as much as we can, because our clients are the state and military institutions. We, as a company, are trying to get closer to the people in the Republic of Srpska and to show them what and how we do, as well as where we do it. We will continue to be transparent as much as possible.

To what extent has the relaunch of production in TRB attracted foreign investors to the company itself and the Republic of Srpska?

— We have had various offers, from buying stock to forming partnerships, joint ventures and the like, but at the moment, we do not want to have any co-owners in the company. We have been promoting the Republic of Srpska through our acquisition and marketing activities. We are changing the notion that people have of us and our companies and we are demonstrating that it is also possible to be competitive in the global market despite being based in this part of the world. In our industry, we are constantly maintaining contact with many ministries of defence, state authorities and investors, and I am confident that both the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina have benefited from that. Promoting the industry, its capacity and all that we have to offer has produced certain results, and time will tell, in the next year or two, what they are.




Given the fast-paced changes at the global level what are the challenges your organisation considers as the most urgent to address?

How are these challenges relevant for your work in Serbia? How can media outlets like D&C help you in communicating your goals?


Head of EIB (European Investment Bank) Regional Representation for the Western Balkans

In light of many challenges in the world today, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to address one issue in particular, and it is related to the fight against climate change. The idea was not to instigate just another dialogue on this crucial topic but to make an impact with concrete steps and measures. In that regard, the EU Bank has adopted a new energy lending policy at the end of last year stipulating types of energy projects that are compliant with the Bank’s objectives and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. According to the new policy, EIB will help mobilize financing of climate action and environmentally sustainable activities with EUR 1 trillion in the decade ending in 2030, as well as terminate financing of fossil fuel energy projects from late 2021 onward. As the major creditor of climate projects and Europe’s climate bank, the EIB has decided to make this quantum leap towards the salvation of our planet and tackle global warming. Therefore, in collaboration with our partners, we will support the market integration of renewable energy projects and help transition towards a climate-neutral economy in all the EU countries, which is the aim of the European Green Deal. In Serbia, environmental issues have started to have a serious impact on people’s life. Up to

now, EIB’s activities were primarily directed towards resolving the most urgent infrastructural challenges, such as rehabilitation and construction of motorways and railways, sewerage, water purification and flood protection systems, as to ensure that some of the basic transportation, ecological and sanitary requirements are provided for the citizens. After reconstructing and improving the infrastructure at all levels, we can start developing an environmental infrastructure that will mitigate the effects of climate change. We are focusing on all the Western Balkan countries, as our goal is to promote integration within the region, and the region within the EU, through better, modern transportation networks, energy and digital systems, as well as climate actions. People that live in this region share the same issues, including the environmental problems that strongly impact the quality of their lives and their countries’ economies. That is why we would like a media to help communicate the importance of local and regional integrations through all the sectors, including the very important fight against climate change that is one of the number one priorities in Europe today. EIB has supported environmental projects in Western Balkan countries with EUR 420 million so far, including donations amounting to as much as EUR 13 million.


UNICEF Representative in Serbia

Children and young people today are facing new challenges. Climate is changing beyond recognition impacting them tremendously. The global learning crisis is contributing to deepening inequalities. Migrations due to conflicts and natural disasters affect millions of uprooted children. Violence against children is on the rise. Digitalisation is showing its dark side on children’s safety and privacy, and the mental health of adolescents is becoming a global concern. However, where there are challenges, there are opportunities. UNICEF is leveraging innovations in programming to identify new solutions in health, education, protection, emergency, and to reach children with vital goods and services in more cost-effective ways. We are harnessing the power of digital technology and social media to enhance the digital competences of children, expand learning opportunities and give platforms to children and young people to demand accountability and drive change. We partner not only with governments, but increasingly more with the private sector to improve how we finance and deliver critical services and to influence business’ contribution to social good.


These challenges are also relevant for UNICEF’s work in Serbia. We are contributing to government efforts in addressing them in partnership with other UN agencies, the EU, bilaterals, as well as the private sector, civil society and young people themselves. In some cases, we are generating evidence to increase awareness of issues that are still not sufficiently prioritised. In other cases, we feel it is the moment to accelerate and scale up solutions that have proved to be effective (e.g. early childhood interventions and parenting programmes). We feel that in some cases Serbia can export solutions that can contribute to the wellbeing of children beyond its borders. Media play a crucial role in informing about the situation of children and the state of their rights, in influencing changes in social norms, in forming opinions... With its outreach to political, diplomatic and business audiences, D&C can keep them abreast about the latest reforms, progress and issues affecting children and young people, thus encouraging those critical audiences to get more involved and contribute to prioritising, advocating for and supporting children’s rights.





The EU is facing Brexit and enlargement issues. What will be the outcome of the negotiations about a free trade agreement with the UK and how will the new accession methodology consolidate the EU and affect the Western Balkans?

Elections at different levels will take place in five Western Balkan countries in 2020, including Serbia, plus this is an election year in the United States. What trends can we expect to see in the light of these developments in Serbia, the Western Balkans and eventually in the world?


Ambassador of United Kingdom

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31st, in honour of the result of the 2016 referendum. After three years of very lively political debate in our country, we are now looking ahead and are focused on shaping our future. In the months ahead, we will continue to have a constructive dialogue about what our future relationships will look like. We are having this dialogue not only with the EU, but also with other countries, including Serbia. Our exit from the EU does not change the fact that Great Britain is committed to the prosperity, development and stability of the Western Balkans. Moreover, we have announced a significant increase in technical, political and financial support for the entire region. We see many opportunities for boosting our cooperation. We will continue to support the Government's important digitisation and reform programme, which will improve the lives of ordinary citizens and the investment climate, as well as help the next generation to build a brighter future for their country. At the 2018 Western Balkans Summit in London, we announced the ambitious 21st Century School Programme, with the first results of the programme already visible. Under the auspices of this programme, all pupils from 1,150

elementary schools in Serbia will get their own microbit pocket computer, as well as support to master the basics of programming and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We expect this programme to generate very positive social, technological and economic results in the period ahead. Since 2015, through its Good Governance Fund, Great Britain has supported more than 60 different projects in the segment of structural and economic reforms in Serbia. We are the largest bilateral donor to the e-Government programme. We also support the cadastre reform, the implementation of e-Baby service, reducing the number of NPLs and other projects aimed at developing better services for citizens and businesses in your country. We have invested over £ 20 million in these projects so far, and we will not stop at that. We have left the EU but we are not leaving Europe. I am pleased to see that both political and military contacts between Great Britain and Serbia have intensified. Prime Minister Brnabić was recently the guest of the EBRD Investment Summit in London. At Imperial College, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, she gave an inspirational lecture to young people, outlining Serbia’s

ambitions regarding digitisation, technology and education. The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Admiral Fraser, visited Belgrade in late February. On that occasion, the two sides signed an agreement on bilateral military cooperation, stipulating as many as 33 joint activities in 2020. All of these examples that I cited are concomitant with my personal ambition as an ambassador to develop strong relationships focused on the future. Both Serbia and Great Britain are part of the European continent and we share a common interest in making Europe stable, secure and prosperous. Independent, pluralistic media and free, fair elections are the basic pillars of a healthy democracy. It is up to political parties, potential candidates and citizens of Serbia to decide whether they are going

to participate in the election, while the Government has a duty to create conditions for fair and free elections in accordance with international democratic standards endorsed by Serbia too. In the light of the upcoming elections in Serbia, it is not up to me, as an ambassador of a foreign country, to tell parties, politicians or voters what they should do. I keep saying that when elections are held in my country, as a citizen, I want to be free to choose between different policies, platforms and candidates. I want to have free access to the views they represent through free media. I would also like to highlight the role of our public broadcaster (the BBC), as an impartial source of information. The importance of public access to information is stipulated in international obligations, which of course, imply the public’s right to be truthfully informed.

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The EU is facing Brexit and enlargement issues. What will be the outcome of the negotiations about a free trade agreement with the UK and how will the new accession methodology consolidate the EU and affect the Western Balkans?

Elections at different levels will take place in five Western Balkan countries in 2020, including Serbia, plus this is an election year in the United States. What trends can we expect to see in the light of these developments in Serbia, the Western Balkans and eventually in the world?


Ambassador of Hungary to Serbia

Regarding the free trade agreement, it is very hard to speculate right now as the economic ties between the UK and EU Member States are quite complex. As for the new accession process, I certainly hope that the overall goal is to help speed up negotiations with the countries in the region – especially Serbia. However, as we all know, participation in the new accession process is

not mandatory for Serbia and Montenegro and we are eagerly awaiting the decision of the respective governments. Once the new funds have become available, the joint project opportunities will certainly make the EU agenda a lot more credible and desirable for the region. The relations between Hungary and Serbia have never been better, so I certainly hope that the new

Serbian government will continue to foster our relations along the established lines. As for the region, I would like to believe that a new impetus to the EU agenda will come and enlargement policy will become a dominant political agenda for the upcoming years. On a global scale, the Balkans are once again enjoying the attention of several global players, including the US.


Turkish Ambassador to Serbia

We are closely following the developments regarding the EU-UK negotiations on a free trade agreement as it will have a direct effect on Turkey due to our Customs Union with the EU.

As a candidate country, the new methodology for future accession process is on our radar. There is no doubt that enlargement has become one of the success stories of the EU project. It is one of the most important soft power tools for the EU as well, but constantly questioning it creates “reliability issues”. Instead, the EU should provide a clear global vision for all candidate countries and display a credible leadership towards them. Keeping a strong membership perspective, while not discriminating

against the candidate countries, is of utmost importance. Each candidacy should be considered on its own merit. However, candidate countries should not be divided into artificially formed groups. We hope that the new methodology will facilitate an accelerated and healthier accession process for all Balkan countries. Turkey will continue to support other Balkan countries’ accession to the EU. We also firmly support the launch of the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Preservation of peace and stability in the Western Balkans, with which we have historic, cultural and humanitarian ties that are firmly rooted in history, will remain one of the priorities of our foreign policy. For us, the peaceful completion of the election processes and boosting the democratic institutions in our region is important. I am confident that, regardless of the results of the coming elections, the Turkish-Serbian bilateral relations will continue to improve.


Even if we are dealing with the two issues at the same time, Brexit and enlargement are two very different processes. On one side we have a country that unfortunately decided to leave the EU and is now trying to negotiate an FTA, on the other side we have the Western Balkan countries that are working hard to be part of the Union. I can proudly say that Italy played an essential role in keeping the debate on enlargement at the top of the EU agenda. Prime Minister Conte was among the first to point out that the decision of the European


Council of not opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia last October was a historical mistake. Immediately after that, we promoted an open discussion in Brussels with our partners and the Commission. We are in favour of a new methodology aimed at improving the accession process by making it more effective and efficient. Nevertheless, in our view, it is equally important to preserve the progress already made by candidate countries, in particular by the frontrunners Serbia and Montenegro.

Elections are at the heart of democracy, since they allow citizens to express their political opinion by voting. Here in Serbia administrative and parliamentary elections will take place on the 26th of April, but already in the past months the European Parliament worked closely with all the political forces of the country to facilitate a constructive dialogue between the majority and the democratic opposition. The European Union, together with all the other international partners of Serbia, will continue to follow

the situation. I am confident that the voting procedures will take place in full transparency, since it is in the interest of Serbia to show to the region and to the world its democratic values.




Education for the Better Health of Our Children

Biser Nutri Academy #PositiveFood is a social responsibility project that supports balanced, responsible and healthy nutrition for children

As obesity and malnutrition have become a serious social problem in our country, Mlekoprodukt, part of the Group Savencia Fromage & Dairy, has decided to raise awareness by educating children, parents, and school and preschool staff on the importance of proper, healthy and responsible nutrition in the development of a child through the Biser Nutri Academy project. In 2020, the Biser Nutri Academy team will hold a series of 5 educational and entertaining events for children, parents and all other interested parties with the view of raising awareness about the proper nutrition of preschool and schoolage children in five different cities

in Serbia - Zrenjanin, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Kragujevac. Prominent nutrition and health experts, paediatricians and nutri-

hold panel discussions and educational sessions, as well as animate children in the process. Between the events, there will be a non-stop

THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY HAS SUPPORTED THE BISER NUTRI ACADEMY CAMPAIGN, AS IT CONTRIBUTES TO DEVELOPING AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ONE’S HEALTH tionists, as well as actress Hristina Popović, as the face of a campaign who will speak from her experience about nutrition of the children from the grades one to four, will be a part of the caravan that will tour the aforementioned cities and

“Social responsibility is a priority for the Group Savencia Fromage & Dairy. Our global socially responsible strategy is called ‘Oxygen’ and through it, we have committed to a sustainable, ethical and solidarity-based approach to business, with the aim of "leading the way to better food" and serving the common good, guided by the slogan "Love is the best ingredient". Our company’s Oxygen strategy is based on 4 pillars: responsible and healthy nutrition, well-being and solidarity of people (employees, partners, clients and everybody who cooperates with our company in any way), investing in sustainable agricultural production and reducing our environmental impact. We are particularly proud to be launching the first nationally socially responsible campaign in Serbia called the Biser Nutri Academy, which is dedicated to our youngest consumers through which we will be working on raising the awareness about healthy eating habits while taking the “Positive Food” approach,“ says Bojana Momčilov, Communications and CSR Manager at Mlekoprodukt.

campaign on Instagram, Facebook and the mainstream media. The Biser Nutri Academy team is working closely with the institutions of the Republic of Serbia to make available the existing campaign resources to institutions that are

already involved in the resolution of this problem and thus have been contributing to raising awareness about it. These are the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry of Health and the Batut Institute which are committed to solving this problem. The Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development and the Minister of Health have adopted the Rulebook on conditions and manner regarding the nutrition of children in preschools and the Rulebook on conditions for organizing, realizing and monitoring the nutrition of pupils in primary schools in 2018. These regulations represent the expert framework of the Biser Nutri Academy curriculum.

“The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development has supported the Biser Nutri Academy campaign, as it contributes to the achievement of the prescribed goals regarding education and upbringing of children, and above all, to developing awareness of the importance of one's health. These are very important activities that will be carried out to achieve the healthy development of our children, and at the same time, this is a good example of our institution's cooperation with socially responsible companies. Campaign activities are in line with our ministry's priorities, quality education and upbringing and we are pleased that the experts that the Academy has engaged have used our policies on the nutrition of children and students, which were adopted two years ago,” said Dr Milan Pašić, Assistant Minister for pre-school and primary education at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.




The EU is facing Brexit and enlargement issues. What will be the outcome of the negotiations about a free trade agreement with the UK and how will the new accession methodology consolidate the EU and affect the Western Balkans?

Elections at different levels will take place in five Western Balkan countries in 2020, including Serbia, plus this is an election year in the United States. What trends can we expect to see in the light of these developments in Serbia, the Western Balkans and eventually in the world?


Montenegrin Ambassador to Serbia

The UK's exit from the European Union has certainly raised a number of important questions, in particular what the future relationship between the UK and the EU will be like. Regardless of the formal legal framework for cooperation and harmonization of legislation in particular areas, the UK remains the EU’s partner on all important issues, in particular those concerning European security, Western values and common interests. I think that it is important to understand the context of foreign policy-making in the UK after Brexit and the priorities and challenges that policy makers in the UK will need to address, from the perspective of the Balkan countries. Concerning to the future trade agenda and free trade agreement with the EU, I believe that the changes will not take place immediately, as the transitional period will last until the end of December this year so that citizens and companies can adapt to this change. Great Britain and the EU should agree on a new relationship in trade and security during this period. History has shown us that it is not good to "ignore" the Balkans. Unresolved issues in the Balkans almost certainly create consequences in other European countries. It is in the common interest that the international community plays a positive and constructive role in addressing the remaining challenges. I think that, after a transitional period, the energy of the UK government will be pri-

marily directed towards finding new models of cooperation with European partners, which, in the new EU institutions, have already validated the geopolitical role of the Commission and the return of enlargement policy to the Union's priorities. Following the challenges the EU has faced and which must have resulted in some reforms inside the EU, changes in the enlargement policy segment, which is one of the Union’s most important policies, are also expected. As explained by the European Commission, the new methodology aims to facilitate the EU enlargement process, with more credibility for implementing fundamental reforms in the Western Balkan countries and introducing conditionality and reversibility into the process. I am convinced that all WB countries will be able to harmonize with the model of the continuation of the negotiation process so that the achievements so far are valorized in the best possible manner and that we can make the most of the proposed model. Montenegro is in the accession negotiation phase and we will remain committed to good implementation of reforms. We strive to do better and more efficiently, with the conviction that our results will be recognized and that the EU will evaluate them adequately. Taking into account the results achieved by Montenegro in the negotiation process so far, on the basis of which the country rightly retains its position as a leader in the region, the Montenegrin government will very carefully

consider the implementation of the new methodology and decide whether to continue the accession negotiations under the existing or new rules. We believe that an open exchange of views and further cooperation with our European counterparts on this issue will have a positive impact on the continuation of our EU membership negotiation process. I am confident that it is in the common interest of both the European and our side to make this process as efficient and good as possible in order to ensure the necessary level of readiness needed for both Montenegro’s and the WB countries’ successful membership in the EU. Elections will be held in Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, while the year 2020 is heralded in Brussels as a "pivotal year" for enlargement policy and the future of the Western Balkans. The Western Balkan countries are committed to implementing reforms on their path to the EU membership, and we are confident that this year will create a new momentum in the negotia-

tions with the EU, and that new chapters will be closed or opened in the coming period. We believe that the EU will decide to launch negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. It is clear that the role of the United States in the Balkans is very important and constructive, as was seen from the appointment of special envoys for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer and Richard Grenell. On that front, I expect that in the coming period, the United States’ role will spur progress in resolving the key issues in the region. I also believe that their engagement will be a positive boost to the processes that follow. With regard to the global framework, it is difficult to predict what will happen next. I think that it depends a lot on the results of the upcoming elections. I believe that the elections are the best test to show whether citizens support the course of their respective governments that is also linked to the road to the EU membership, but most of all to the development of countries and reforms. Elections will certainly demonstrate whether citizens have recognized the reforms and overall progress.






How important is it for companies gathered in business associations and chambers of commerce to work together to improve the business environment and what trends do you expect to see in 2020?

The year 2020 is an election year for most Western Balkan countries, including Serbia. How will this affect the development of the economy in the region?


Executive Director of NALED

Associations represent the united voice of their membership and have the expertise and advocacy capacity to more effectively nominate key reforms to be included in the agenda of the authorities. As advocates of common interests, they are more effective than individual companies in dialogue with decision-makers. NALED's research shows that about 50% of institutions consult business associations when drafting regulations under their jurisdiction. When you ask businesspeople if they will like to participate in public-private dialogue,

38% say ‘yes’, but only as part of a business association. Members of NALED come from the public, private and civil sectors and can influence public policies by proposing activities at NALED’s Annual General Meeting and vote for priorities that NALED will address. They can also join thematic working bodies - the so-called alliances. They are fair competition, eGovernment, food and agriculture, healthcare, property and urbanism and environmental protection. This is also a good opportunity to make proposals for NALED’s Gray Book, which gives

institutions an overview of problematic procedures and solutions. Elections inevitably slow down the reform process, and often they also change the priorities in the new government due to changes in certain sectors. Major reforms will certainly be prolonged, but we need to work on them in order for them to be implemented as soon as possible. We set the NALED 2020 agenda very ambitiously, and this year, we plan to work on a system for developing eProstor spatial plans, resolving land conversion rights, developing eGovernance, eliminating para-fiscals, com-

bating the shadow economy, and advocate for reducing the payroll tax. Plus, we are going to work on regulating new forms of work engagement and expanding the scope of the system for registration of seasonal workers to include other business activities.


The membership in business associations is very important, especially in those such as it is FIC, that has a long-term presence and tradition in Serbia. For the

companies - foreign investors that for the first time enter the Serbian market, such context is already stressful and it is easier for them to become a member of the big family of foreign investors that can assist them and provide valuable advice from doing business here. In a later stage, associations are also of key importance to investors as they represent an integral part of two-way communication between the state and private sector, to improve the business

climate and secure much-needed predictability. In term of economic trends, we expect that the growth rate remains at least on the level already achieved last year that is minimum 4%, and that it remains stable. Although elections are a natural thing in a democratic society, it is a well-known fact that they cause a slow-down in reforms, but this is just a short-term effect. We expect and hope that the Government will be swiftly

formed after the election and that it will perpetuate the successful dialogue with FIC that the current Government already had. On the other hand, we expect that elections for most Western Balkan countries will not impact the regional cooperation and development of the regional economy much, mostly because the continuous economic development, cooperation and stability are of key importance to all players on the regional markets.


President of the Slovenian Business Club

The accession chapters outline all the conditions that Serbia should meet before joining the EU. Of particular importance are those related to the rule of law, the eradication of corruption, the protection of the environment and the freedom of the media. However, the most important change is one that needs to happen in the minds of each individual, and it concerns the decision that Serbia should and must reach the EU values. EU membership should not be the ultimate goal, but merely a side stop


on the path of progress and general well-being of Serbian citizens. Neither Serbia nor any Western Balkan country individually represents an impressive market on a global scale. However, if these countries are viewed as a single region then, judging by many factors, they can be a significant investment destination on the world and especially the European map. The population, the qualified workforce, the size, the natural resources and its geostrategic position already make this

region very attractive to investors. Furthermore, each country strives to encourage foreign investors to invest in their respective economy by providing additional benefits. However, the administrative boundaries that divide this region are too pronounced. The regulation and rules of the game vary from country to country in many respects and make it an aggravating factor when it comes to large multinational companies deciding to invest more in their business in these areas. By establishing

uniformed doing business rules that are familiar to the developed world and by softening the administrative borders, the Western Balkan region would significantly increase its potential and capacity and become even more appealing to global companies.


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How important is it for companies gathered in business associations and chambers of commerce to work together to improve the business environment and what trends do you expect to see in 2020?

The year 2020 is an election year for most Western Balkan countries, including Serbia. How will this affect the development of the economy in the region?


President of Italian Serbian Chamber of Commerce and General Director of “DDOR Novi Sad”

Chambers of commerce and business associations have among their goals, the one of gathering companies’ need and inputs related to the business environment.

The chambers are a network, and they help companies to share their problems arising from labour, environmental, legal and other regulations. In the case of the Italian Chamber, I have to say that the companies not only have the Chamber as a business association, but they can also access the “Sistema Italia” that is made up of the Embassy with its economic experts, the Chamber and the Italian Trade Agency ICE – whose aim is to support Italian entities in the foreign trade. Also the Istituto Ital-

iano di Cultura and other Italian private associations are relevant parts of this system, as for example Confindustria. During 2020, we expect a growth of our activities, also in connection with important events involving Serbian and Italian governmental institution which will take place in Serbia. In this way the “Sistema Italia” will contribute to improve the business environment. The Serbian economy concluded very well 2019, and is entering

in 2020 with a positive spin. From a business perspective, I wish that 2020 can still build on the momentum from 2019, and that elections, as a normal event of the democratic life, will provide the conditions to build an efficient Government and prepare for 2021 and the future years. In this sense I wish that the elected Government in 2020 continues ensuring the appropriate conditions for Serbia to grow faster, in a balanced and inclusive way, and to continue the EU accession process.


President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy in Serbia

It is very important that companies assembled in business associations and chambers of commerce work together to improve the business environment because they are a greater force for all partners. I am mainly referring to state institutions and policies that create the environment and frameworks for doing business. Individual action can sometimes raise doubts about the subjectivity of institutions. Chambers of commerce give their opinions and proposals when passing laws, and of course, the opinions they give are in line

with the proposals of their members, economic entities. In 2020, I expect economic growth in both Croatia and Serbia. However, there are some things we could not have foreseen, such as the outbreak of the coronavirus, although I am no expert in assessing the danger to the human community. We hear various comments including how the coronavirus is no more dangerous than the ordinary flu. However, it is not difficult to see that there is great panic in the world. Failure to control the virus will surely have major effects on the economy. I dare not imagine

what implications will the coronavirus have on the economy if not contained, let alone on tourism. Most of the companies in the region have been privatized and they operate under economic laws that are the same no matter who wins the election. Politics sets the framework for business, and I'm sure that everyone wants economic growth and an even higher living standard. Besides, a large number of companies in the region are foreign-owned. All countries in the region are eager to learn in the EU and policies will create the economic framework to achieve this.

As for Serbia, the country has been recording a good upward trend in the economy and certainly aims to continue to create the conditions for further growth.


President Hellenic Business Association of Serbia

Undoubtedly, beyond benefiting member businesses, business associations chambers’ work has a multiplier effect on improving


commercial, governmental, and economic institutions. Therefore, the importance of the Hellenic Business Association in Serbia in the modern Serbian economy and society cannot be overstated. We are here to help shape economies by making them more efficient and transparent through the establishment of better regulations and standards. In this respect, we are proud to have contributed, in our way, on making a great improve-

ment in many areas in the country. As the country has already come a long way in adopting measures to stabilize public finances and create a friendly business environment, Greek companies operating on the Serbian market are very satisfied with the overall business climate, increasing their ventures/investments in sectors such as textiles, transport equipment, chemicals and electronics. Three Western Balkan coun-

tries – Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro – are expected to hold parliamentary elections in 2020. These represent rather important events, as they will certainly have a great impact on the entire region. We want to believe that our expectations will be fulfilled and Serbia’s economy will continue its robust growth in 2020, with government’s investments in infrastructure, wage and pension hikes and strong domestic demand.





How important is it for companies gathered in business associations and chambers of commerce to work together to improve the business environment and what trends do you expect to see in 2020?

The year 2020 is an election year for most Western Balkan countries, including Serbia. How will this affect the development of the economy in the region?


President of the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce

The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce was established to work to boost bilateral ties, especially economic ties between France and Serbia. Our members, who successfully operate in the market, are the best economic ambassadors of Serbia. They are the ones who testify that Serbia's macroeconomic indicators are improving year-on-year and thus have a positive impact

on Serbia's image in France. Joint activities are one of the priorities of the network of French Chambers in the world. A forthcoming joint initiative to organize a unique CSR event on 5 June 2020 that will mobilize all members of the 124 chambers of commerce in 93 countries, i.e. over 37,000 companies, is a great example of this. The idea is that our Chamber brings together all the members and partners in Serbia and together, we implement a reforestation project throughout Serbia on that day. By acting like this together, we will certainly have a larger media resonance and thus more easily mobilize more students to participate in this project

for the common good. We also expect you to join us in the project for a greener Serbia. The announced elections in April should not significantly affect economic development. Of course, businesses do not like election periods anywhere because they bring a certain amount of uncertainty. Predictability on the political and economic front is a priority, however, Serbia has been a stable market for a long time and the elections should not change that. We hope that the new government will be formed very soon after the elections. There is no doubt that the work on bolster-

ing macroeconomic stability and attracting investments so far is delivering results. Our Chamber strives for SMEs, as well as large ones, to always receive the latest sectoral information and presentations of the potential of the Serbian market, but also of the markets in the region. We believe it is very important that we work to develop regional economic cooperation that can contribute to improving all-around relations. That is why we have launched the Team France Balkans regional platform, which should bring French businesses closer to all these markets and make it easier for them to access and operate in the Balkans.


President of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce

The Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce strives to contribute to the further improvement of the local business environment, together with its member companies. With this in mind, the SSCC conducts the yearly ‘’Business Climate Survey’’ to obtain information on members’ perceptions of local economic conditions and regulations that affect businesses and identifying more ways in which the SSCC can assist. Furthermore, the cooperation between business associations is needed to achieve synergistic

effects and avoid duplication of activities. The SSCC has recognized this need and invested a lot of effort in connecting with local business associations and organizing joint events over the last several years. Also, I firmly believe that cooperation is needed not only in the country but in the region as well, which is why the SSCC has conducted its first joint activities with colleagues from Bulgaria in 2019. 2020 is a dynamic political year for the region, including Serbia.

Elections represent rather important events and will undoubtedly have an impact on the entire region’s economy. Serbia will, for sure, remain committed to joining the European Union and implementing structural reforms required for strong economic growth in the future. The governments in the region should continue to invest in the further deepening of the economic integration by removing obstacles to free movement of goods, services, people and capital. This is essential for the business community in the


Director of the Dutch-Serbian Business Association (DSBA)

I think it is extremely important for business associations and companies assembled under them to collaborate and exchange experiences, because those experiences are practical and real, to say the least. Based on these experiences, we can find out what is good and bad in the Serbian market, and what to do next. Although the DSBA is the youngest business association in Serbia, we have already made acquaintances and es-


tablished cooperation with almost all other business associations in Serbia. I must say that we have been very well received by all our colleagues. On the other hand, the Netherlands has been the largest investor in Serbia in the last nine years, investing over 2.5 billion euro in Serbia and employing over 15,000 people. The experiences of the companies gathered in the DSBA are very substantial and significant, and in cooperation with

region as it allows facilitation of inter-business contacts and promotion of the Western Balkan region as one investment destination. other business associations, we are trying to highlight the things that need to be corrected. The plan is to organize joint events with other business associations in 2020. I am confident that this cooperation will only deepen in the future. Each election year brings certain challenges with it, for all economic stakeholders too. Elections will have some kind of impact on growth and development. However, these are the circumstances that are an integral part of democracy, so we should not complain too much, but to try to do what is possible in the given circumstances.



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Serbia is facing another election year, with certain political parties announcing an election boycott. How good or bad can that be? Can it change the current situation?

In the light of the latest turbulences in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, as well as the elections in Kosovo and Croatia, what are the region’s prospects?


Political expert and owner of the Pragma PR agency

There are currently no conditions for a fair, demographic, regular elections. Public service broadcasters and TV stations with national frequencies, which are the dominant channel of public communication in Serbia, do not provide information but rather misinformation, and some of them disqualify, discriminate and target every critical public word. Parliamentary elections overlap the municipal and city elections, so the election lists that bear only the name of the President of Serbia overshadow the civil right to democratic elections. The election win-

ner is already known in advance and it is likely that regardless of the voter turnout, a government that will be formed based on of the results of such elections will not have democratic legitimacy. Since more than a half of the registered voters rarely vote in Serbia and because the elections are boycotted by an alliance of the strongest opposition parties, it is clear that this delegitimization of a certain victory of the Serbian Progressive Party in the October elections will very soon result in new, early elections, that is before the end of the term of the future government.

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately for the people living in the former Yugoslavia, our region’s prospects will not be decided by the governments in these countries and territories, but rather by more powerful individuals in Washington, Moscow, Berlin or Brussels. If it is any consolation, I have not heard that any politician in the four republics of the former Yugoslavia has called for any kind of war. If the dominant international political factor resonates in the same way, there is no reason for these prospects to be bleak.


The only purpose of the boycott is to take away the legitimacy from the ruling party. Without opposition in the parliament, all decisions regarding the amendments to the Constitution and the recognition of Kosovo’s independence will be de facto controversial. That is why the ruling party has lowered the electoral threshold and calling on the opposition to participate in the election, hoping that financial motives (surviving with the help of the funds they would receive from the budget) will be stronger than

political and moral motives, i.e. to strike a sharp blow to the policies endorsed by the ruling party. By contrast, the opposition is also very aware that, should it take over the power in the near future, it would (like the ruling party) be pressured to recognize Kosovo’s independence and then agree to the gradual abolition of the Republic of Srpska. Therefore, it is quite convenient for the opposition that all these shameful decisions are made by Vučić, and that they (if they survive) then take over the power in Serbia

The region’s prospects are rather bleak, because whoever wants to live in a better and more orderly political system will rather emigrate than deal with politics in order to change things here. We are witnessing that accession to the European Union does not diminish but, on the contrary, intensify the wave emigration, so that with such a massive outflow of the best people, the prospects in the region can hardly be optimistic for anyone.


Serbian playwright and professor at the Academy of Arts

I belong to the group of people that has been advocating the boycott since day one. Not going to the polls is the way to have normal, free and democratic elections. The current situation does not reflect the will of the people, while the results are subjected to extortion and coercion, threats, media abuse and


the cult of personality. If someone binds your feet and puts a sack of rocks on your back, proclaiming you a thief and a doping fraudster, why would you run in the race?! Free and fair elections with equal access to the media space, especially television with national coverage, are certainly acceptable.

There are two conditions for the situation in the ex-Yugoslavia to calm down. The first is to remove from the power all the leaders involved in the breakup of the former state, and the second is to stop adding fuel to the fire and for them to get out of here. The first condition is possible.




Further Development of the Construction Sector Requires Quality Management In every area, even in the construction sector, the most important thing is to increase product value, which is possible through the development and application of new technologies and personal approach to individual client ping malls ranges from 27-29 euro per sqm (the current yield rate for prime shopping malls in Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria is about 7%).

MIA ZEČEVIĆ CEO of Novaston platform

Serbia is witnessing a huge construction growth, which is expected to set a record in the construction of apartments, office and retail space in 2020. This requires professional managers who will manage real estate, it was said during the panel discussion on the main driving forces behind the construction industry in Serbia at the 2020 Kopaonik Business Forum. Mia Zečević, CEO of Novaston, a real estate management platform, says that the information on the square footage of the buildings that are going to be built in Serbia over the next three years is known, after which a market analysis will be performed.

What is the current situation in the real estate market?

— Almost all parameters relating to the real estate markets show positive changes, i.e. an improvement over the previous period (e.g. level of investments, arrival of new investors, lower vacancy rate, decrease in the percentage of yields). Serbia is appealing to foreign investors because, this segment is still underdeveloped relative to markets in the region, such as the Romanian, Bulgarian or Croatian. Both residential and business, as well as the retail and logistics sectors are developing rapidly. Regarding the residential sector, housing demand has been growing for several years now, despite the constant rise in the prices. Since 2016, we have seen a perpetual increase in the price of a square metre in new buildings, so in 2019, the average price of a square metre exceeded 1,900 euro.

What is the situation concerning the logistics sector?

— As for the logistics sector, around one million square metres of industrial and logistics facilities have been built in Serbia since 2000. Currently, CTP Invest is building logistics and manufacturing facilities in several locations, and they are also building the largest industrial park in Serbia - CTP Park Belgrade North.


— In terms of office space, this sector is developing very dynamically in Serbia, with the record-breaking rental prices, although real estate sales are quite rare there. When it comes to Belgrade, the supply of modern office space is around 800,000 square metres (A Class). The vacancy rate is below 5%, and the projection is that, in the coming period, and due to the expansion of this type of real estate, the vacancy rate will increase to between 6% and 9%, and rent in first-class projects will probably be reduced. Although in focus, the office space market is still far behind the countries in the region in terms of the square metres per 1,000 people ratio. Regarding the shopping mall market, we are still in

the bottom half compared to other regional countries. Slovenia is the most developed (600 sqm per 1,000 people in Ljubljana), while Belgrade has just over 200 sqm per 1,000 people. In 2020, we are going to see the opening of Eagle Hills - BW Galeria and MPC's Beo Shopping Centre. The current power ratio between retail developers will change quite a bit, after which we expect to see a calmer period in terms of investments, since 80 sqm per 1,000 people in Belgrade is quite a lot and there will have to be an absorption period, i.e. we are going to have to wait for the market to react. Serbia currently has the highest yield rate compared to other countries in the region standing at 8% for shopping malls and 8.5% for retail parks, while the average rent in first-class shop-

What happens next after such progress?

— Considering that the market continues to increasingly flourish, there is a need for quality management in a company who will realize investors' desires. When they come to Serbia, foreign investors first think they can do it all on their own, and then they realize that it is better for them to hire local companies, which management has international experience backed by excellent knowledge of the local situation. It is for this reason that the Novaston platform was created, which today consists of four companies (Asset and Property, Project and Facility, and Marketing). Our goal is to further develop the services we provide in the office space and logistics segments while following trends in all areas. Apart from Novaston's CEO, Mia Zečević, other panel participants included Robert Yahav, CEO of BIG CEE and Pedja Petronijević, CEO of GTC, while Nebojša Nešovanović, Senior Director and Head of Valuation in SEE Region, CBRE, was the panel moderator




Serbia is facing another election year, with certain political parties announcing an election boycott. How good or bad can that be? Can it change the current situation?

In the light of the latest turbulences in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, as well as the elections in Kosovo and Croatia, what are the region’s prospects?


Assistant Editor-in-Chief of VREME weekly

At this point, we cannot see the effects of the boycott as they are yet to come, and the future is quite

difficult to predict. At the moment, we can say the boycott is the first move made by the opposition that has provoked any reaction from the authorities. Also, in earlier years, the opposition (admittedly in a different setting) participated in the election and was represented in parliament, but was silenced and obstructed there. I don't know if a boycott is a smart way to fight politically, but I know that it is a new way since the old ones are not

working anymore. We have strained relations with every country in the neighbourhood. We have a problem with everyone – regarding church property, tax, the support for Nikola Gruevski, secessionist aspirations of the Republic Srpska and others. My strongest impression is definitely related to hypocrisy, especially concerning Kosovo. Ilija Ivić (age 17) is satanized for playing for the Kosovo national foot-

ball team, but only until just a few months ago, Serb representatives, close to the official Belgrade, were sitting in the Kosovo government. All of a sudden, Ivić is considered a traitor, but they are not. The only thing that is a consolation to me is that the period from the year 2000 onward shows that the relations in the region are easily broken, but they are also easily fixed; truth be told, only when there is political interest.


The boycott was supposed to lead to the creation of conditions for free elections. The opposition has not succeeded in this, and the election will take place in a radical manner, which, undoubtedly, implies a certain victory for Vučić. Ultimately, it will mean defeat for all people in Serbia because that victory will be won on false grounds yet again. Insisting on the boycott as an act of not going to the polling stations will not strengthen the position of political opposition in Serbia. The country will embark on a new crisis and become even

weaker and more vulnerable to different external pressures. This will increase the apathy of the older population in the country and the younger ones will be even more determined to leave Serbia. To sum up, it will be a new defeat for a society that is already on its knees, has lost all self-respect and is waiting for things to end on their own. The so-called region is believed to be a place where there are no open war conflicts and it is something that both the EU and the US can be pleased with. The

Western Balkans or Southeastern Europe (the term I prefer) is still a desolate place that is only attractive to criminals on the mainland and owners of speculative capital on the coast and in several major cities. It is a technological and human dump and is physically fenced off with a wire from the rest of the continent. In such a cage, it is impossible to talk about anything that is serious and strategic except about the technology that is already used for landfills – namely, ‘recycling factories’ of for things that have been dumped and used

repeatedly, and the production of ‘energy’ for ‘spas’ that service criminals and equity owners. The current political elites are not capable of offering citizens anything that would change that position.


Editor-in-Chief of NIN weekly

The decision, made by part of the opposition, to boycott the April 26 elections will unfortunately not help to reduce the growing tensions in society and the political arena. On the contrary, polarization will continue after the election, where the winner is known in advance. This will surely be exacerbated by the election campaign because if the morning


shows the day, ends will justify the means in fighting to win over the voters. Although the Alliance for Serbia and Sergej Trifunović’s PSG have decided to boycott the election even before the official decision was made, the SNS is directing its main attacks at that part of the opposition, which just goes to show that the SNS considers them to be their main political competitors and not those they will stand against in the election. This ‘battle’ will probably continue even after polling stations are closed, which will certainly not contribute to the much-needed stabilization. Unfortunately, the relations in the region are more reminiscent

of the 1990s. The US pressure on authorities in Priština is likely to contribute to the abolition of customs duties on imported goods from Serbia and Bosnia after which it would not come as a surprise if the US administration exerts pressure on Belgrade, which President Vučić indicated it would happen in some way. At the same time, since the adoption of the controversial Law on Freedom of Religion, the Belgrade-Podgorica relations have hit the lowest point since Montenegro's declaration of independence. The absurdity is all the greater when we believed, until recently, that the two presidents, Vučić and Djukanović, had good personal relations, which could

not be said for the relations between Vučić and the new president of Croatia. The situation in BIH is becoming increasingly complicated following the announcement by Milorad Dodik that the Republic of Srpska might hold a referendum on separation. North Macedonia is also facing elections. Unless Brussels sends a clear enough signal to all WB countries that the door to the EU is still wide open for them, the future could be very uncertain. And without the certain future, the whole region will need decades of stable and dynamic economic growth to somewhat close the gap between them and the economically developed countries of Western Europe



Consumer Trust and Strategic Partnerships More than 1,300 participants and over 200 panelists – these are some of the high points of this year’s regional meeting - the 27th Kopaonik Business Forum The event brought together the most influential people in the field of economic policy, business and the academic community, who took part in 28 panel discussions. Key issues, discussed at the Forum by major economic policymakers, as well as representatives of the Fiscal Council, ambassadors of developed countries, representatives of international financial institutions, chambers of commerce from the region, the most relevant banking and finance CEOs, big regional investors, successful entrepreneurs, foreign investors, heads of public enterprises, included: how ready we are for the changes brought by Industry 4.0, is our educational system capable of supporting Industry 4.0, how the inclusive growth policy is defined, and what is the link with the smart specialisation strategy. The region’s biggest economic summit dedicated more time to topics which are common for countries in the region. In addition to the key topic – Industry 4.0 – challenges of the future, the participants also discussed how important it is that, as organizers pointed out, the education is the pillar of the development policy of our country and the entire region. Additionally, there was discussion about artificial intelligence, as well as about climate change and the need raise awareness of these issues. Different panels attracted a sizeable audience and launched important questions. Milana Jević Gledović, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Asset Protection at Delhaize Serbia, was one of the panelists and participants. She spoke about the protection of competition, as well as the trust this company was building with consumers and strategic partners. – It is a business and strategic imperative of Delhaize Serbia to have sustainable operations in all areas. The protection of competition topic is extremely important


COMPLIANCE WITH GDPR — Delhaize Serbia has aligned its operations with the GDPR, which entered into force during the last year. The company recognizes the personal information of its customers and employees as their ownership, and thus implements all protection measures with a full understanding of their purpose and need.

for our company, and it is important that our colleagues understand it and implement all of its elements in their daily operations. In recent months, we have organized numerous trainings and workshops for our employees, as well as interactive electronic trainings - says Milana Jević Gledović, who underlined the value of the trust of consumers and strategic partnerships with suppliers, built over the years both locally and globally. The company, which considers it absolute imperative to be committed to the quality and safety of products in its operations, plans in the near future to continue expanding with new stores, in new cities. Also, the company has given a sharper focus on the first new concept specialized store. In late 2019, the very first PREMIA products with the Nutri Score labelling system landed on the shelves of Maxi, Tempo and Shop&Go stores, and by mid-2020, a major part of the brand’s assortment will have additional nutrition fact labels in the same manner. This international chain is also introducing high standards for the environment and sustainable operations into the market. It is introducing innovations into every aspect of CSR, in a sustainable way, from care for employees, strictly controlled production of all items, to energy efficiency, managing surplus food, sustainability of brands, and promotion of healthy diets, both among co-workers and among customers. On an annual level, Delhaize Serbia donates 1,200 tons of groceries, and cooperates with more than 70 humanitarian organizations. The donation principle has been upgraded to a digital platform, which will in the second half of this year provide an even better response to the needs of humanitarian organizations, thanks to which even greater quantities of food would be donated on the yearly level.




In the light of Serbia's accession to the EU, it seems that the development of culture and the arts is overshadowed by other segments of society. What do you think are the key problems that we need to solve in order to reach the European level?

How important is the exchange of cultural and artistic content not only in the region but also more broadly and what has been your experience in this matter so far?


Photo: Jakov Simović

We do not need to reach the European level, but we must work to achieve the highest level in fulfilling our own, original potential. Only then will Europe recognize this as a contribution. Serbia is a country of simple but ingenious and extraordinary people. On the other hand, Serbia is a country which unfortunately has to deal with corruption, deceit and betrayal, as well as a country of great deeds, and a deeply thoughtful, enlightened, and pious worldview.

But what is all of that worth if we forget about triumphs, when we do not know who the monuments we are walking by are dedicated to, and we use a book as a prop to prevent us from nodding as we sip our coffee and watch a reality show? Yet Europe is also not on that level as it usually seems. When I look at what kind of people call themselves Europeans in terms of behavioural models and value systems (I am not referring to nations or skin colour), I start to wonder

about the values that Europe is gathered around. Perhaps we can learn the most from Europe in the field of ecology. It is very important. The exchange of cultural content is the only thing that can counteract the straining situation created by the media and cheap political tricks geared towards winning points. Art creates connections. It reaches the human in us. And we all have that in common.


Musician, signer of Električni Orgazam

It is definitely overshadowed and the culture is neglected as an art in general. I think that the key problem lies in the fact that investments are made solely into things that generate profit and material benefits. People in high places, who are also decision-makers when it comes to investing in arts and culture, have a limited understanding and don’t see a big

picture, i.e. the importance of investing into something that would lead to the spiritual development of our nation in the long run. The exchange of cultural and artistic content is essential. Categories such as art and cultural assets know no boundaries and transcend nationality. This is actually a special kind of com-

munication that is necessary and useful to everyone, both those who present something and those who are recipients of that content. My experiences are such that whenever I performed outside my home country, there was always a higher quality. Very often, audiences in other countries are unburdened by certain local issues that are often a hindrance in the home field.


Curator of the Drina Gallery

Photo: Nemanja Taneski

First and foremost, we need to work on raising awareness about contemporary art. Contemporary art has long been regarded by people across the globe as the best investment, and this sector has grown over the past two decades like no other. If we think of a cultural strategy, we are talking about a concept that is inseparable from the unification of economy and business and, most importantly, the state that creates the tax conditions and the context for that to happen. In other words, the state has to encourage, via its laws, the purchase of and investment in art, rather than punishing that process.We are tasked


with nurturing the memory, both personal and the collective. We create the future precisely through the use of memory. We already have enormous potential and specific parameters to create an original brand that will position us not only on the European but on the global stage. We need to turn our exotics into our trump card rather than deal with cheap knockoffs. We must invest in representing our artists at biennales and support the galleries that represent them at trade shows and invest in their promotion. We need to bring international artists and curators

to Serbia and position our artists in an international context and tendencies, including in the digital sphere.We should also pay more attention to our artists who have global careers, of whom our public is not aware. By investing in art, we are investing not only in our status, but in the future too. The state needs to be aware of the fact that unless it passes a law that will encourage the work of artists, galleries, institutions, organizations and investors, the enormous potential will not be fulfilled and we are not going to be able to create a brand out of it that would be the image of the contemporary Serbia.



Covid-19 Risks Tipping Germany and Italy Into Recession Both economies have already borne a number of blows Bad weather, trade war, changes to car-emissions testing, and low water levels in the Rhine: since 2017 Europe’s economy has been struck by a number of shocks, none of which hapless finance ministers or central bankers could control. Last year euro-area GDP rose by only 1.2%. Germany and Italy, which as big manufacturers were most exposed to America’s trade war with China, sank to the bottom of the zone’s growth rankings. Now covid-19 is spreading across the continent. Over 3,000 cases have been confirmed in Italy, and more than 200 each in France and Germany. Responding to the outbreak falls to health authorities. But the virus also deals the economy a big blow. The economic trouble began even before the virus reached Europe. China is usually a keen buyer of European cars and other manufactured goods, gobbling up 7% of German exports. Figures for February are not yet available, but it seems certain that sales will have fallen as the epidemic took hold in China. Disruption will also have rippled along manufacturers’ supply chains, many of which rely on parts from China, and hurt countries such as Germany. According to a survey of euro-area purchasing managers, released on March 2nd, lead times for the delivery of manufacturing parts had lengthened “appreciably” in February, with respondents attributing the delay to coronavirus-related shutdowns in China. Added to all of this is the economic impact of the outbreak of the virus in northern Italy. The country’s most productive regions, Lombardy and Veneto, have been the most seriously affected. Together they account for nearly a third of output. On March 4th the government ordered the closure of schools and universities nationwide until March 15th. Such containment measures could force more people to stay at home, leading to a further drop in economic activity.

ANALYSTS FROM DEUTSCHE BANK PREDICT THAT EURO-AREA GDP GROWTH COULD FALL AT AN ANNUALISED RATE OF 4% IN THE SECOND QUARTER IF THERE IS A MORE SEVERE OUTBREAK, AND BY EVEN MORE IN GERMANY All told, another bad year for Italy and Germany seems likely (see chart). Analysts at Goldman Sachs are expecting both to fall into recession in the first half; the euro area as a whole is expected narrowly to skirt one. Forecasters are pencilling in a sharp rebound in the second half of the year. But precisely when it comes will depend on the extent to which the virus spreads and on the measures taken to contain it. Authorities in France, for instance, have banned large-scale indoor events. Some tourist attractions, such as the

Louvre, have closed. That will slow the spread of the virus. But it will also drag down output: according to the OECD, tourism accounts for 7% of France’s GDP, and around 12% in Portugal and Spain. Expectations are rising that policymakers will help companies that face the most disruption. On March 2nd Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), promised to take “appropriate and targeted” measures to deal with the economic effects of the virus. Investors expect the ECB to cut interest rates in com-

ing months, following the lead of America’s Federal Reserve, which on March 3rd unexpectedly cut rates. But with the ECB’s rates already at -0.5%, it has little room to prune further. Some economists expect it to tweak its cheap-lending scheme for banks at its meeting on March 12th instead, perhaps to encourage lenders to keep credit flowing to companies that have been most affected by the spread of the virus. So far governments have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for loosening the purse strings. Italy has promised to spend €3.6bn on health care and tax cuts to help companies facing the most disruption. Given the unusual circumstances, it has a dispensation from the European Commission to spend more than the EU’s fiscal rules would allow in normal times. France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, is urging more spending to cushion the blow to the economy. By contrast, Germany’s government, traditionally tight-fisted, has so far done little. This could rapidly change if the virus spreads further. Analysts from Deutsche Bank predict that euro-area GDP growth could fall at an annualised rate of 4% in the second quarter if there is a more severe outbreak, and by even more in Germany. The prospect of job losses and bankruptcies might soon jolt governments into doing a lot more.

From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com






Commerce and Investments Connect Us The main objective of HEPA's representative office for the Balkans is to bring the Balkan countries closer to Hungary through commerce and investments. In Serbia, we are focused on the formation of joint Serbian - Hungarian companies and direct Hungarian investments, especially in central and southern Serbia

NEMANJA MILUTINOVIĆ Honorary Consul of Hungary in Serbia and President of HEPA for the Western Balkans

„The Hungarian Export Promotion Agency (HEPA) is a non-profit company that aims to help Hungarian companies successfully enter foreign markets with new and professional services. Hungarian companies offer quality, world-class products and services in several industries, and their export growth shows that they are globally competitive. Through training, promotion and networking, HEPA helps companies to find adequate business partners internationally,“ explains Nemanja Milutinović, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Serbia and HEPA President for the Western Balkans. HEPA encourages the formation of business relationships with the highest export potential for Hungarian companies and at the same time, helps foreign partners to find adequate deals in Hungary. It also provides professional services to partners to support the continued export success of Hungarian businesses and the visibility of the country's international image. At the same time, HEPA cooperates with other state economic institutions.

What are HEPA's tasks in Serbia and the region?

— HEPA's representative office for the Balkans was opened in 2019 to improve Hungarian commerce and diversify Hungary's foreign eco-


nomic relations. Our main task is to promote the export of Hungarian products, services and capital. The plan is to make Hungarian products accessible and recognizable in our region. HEPA'a Office in Belgrade facilitates the flow of information through the Regional Chamber of Commerce network as well as the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The main objective is to consider all the possibilities of bilateral cooperation, including product distribution, re-export of intermediate products, joint venture investments, knowledge transfer, cooperation in the field of service products, tourism and similar business areas. Talking to bank presidents and financial stakeholders in Serbia, the stability of the financial market is

Where are HEPA's offices located in the world? — The Balkan headquarters is located in Belgrade with partner offices in North Macedonia and Montenegro. Besides, HEPA has offices in Istanbul (Turkey), Athens (Greece), Tokyo (Japan) and Shanghai (China). All HEPA's representative offices operate on the same principle and have the same goals.

How much are Hungary and Serbia expected to support HEPA's activities?

— Given that HEPA was established by the Hungarian government, that is, the Hungarian Foreign

WE EXPECT THAT SEVERAL PROJECTS TO BE LAUNCHED SHORTLY, ESPECIALLY RELATING TO FORMING JOINT SERBIAN - HUNGARIAN COMPANIES evident thanks to the policies implemented by President Aleksandar Vučić and numerous investments coming from countries around the world. Serbia has become fertile business ground and, in recent years, has become attractive for investing and creating new thanks to the provisions that the Serbian Development Agency gives foreign investors. There is a fusion between foreign investments and our subsidies, and Hungary has recognized that in the right way.

Ministry, we can conclude that strategic support already exists. As Hungary is Serbia's first neighbour and a part of the territory covered by HEPA in the Western Balkans, HEPA and the Serbian Development Agency signed a cooperation agreement stipulating the implementation of joint projects. In this way, the two countries have formalized the support for HEPA's projects relating to the cooperation between Hungarian and Serbian companies. Furthermore, the

aim of HEPA's office in Belgrade is informing the market about the opportunities for cooperation with Hungary, in which the Hungarian Embassy in Serbia is also involved which again provides a form of diplomatic assistance.

What projects are you currently working on?

— We expect that several projects to be launched shortly, especially relating to forming joint Serbian - Hungarian companies, direct Hungarian investments, especially in central and southern Serbia, as well as to the import of Hungarian products. We are currently focusing on the Regional Fair in Mostar and we are assisting Hungarian companies regarding their participation in this trade fair which is one of the largest international trade fairs that attracts visitors across the region. Our mission is to introduce Hungarian companies and their high-quality products, as well as to enable them to penetrate our market by organizing business meetings with potential partners. The fair is being held in Mostar from 31 March to 4 April, and Hungary is a partner-country this year. In addition to HEPA from Hungary, chambers of commerce from Serbia and Montenegro, as well as the Serbian Development Agency, are participating in the fair. Plus, regional political leaders will also attend the fair, which speaks volumes about its importance for the economy of the entire region.





We are Pushing the Boundaries of Everything We always bring novelties and keep up with the latest world trends when implementing our real estate projects. In this way, we are pushing the boundaries of everything that exists in the markets in which we operate, whether it is shopping malls, office space or hotel industry Hotel and Autokomanda, a project that has been waiting for a permit for a long time?

ZORANA BURLIĆ Director General of Delta Real Estate

Delta Real Estate has embarked on a big investment cycle whereby, in the next five years, it plans to invest 400 million euro in office buildings, shopping malls and hotels. The list of the company’s projects include Delta’s new office building called Delta House, a shopping mall in Autokomanda in Belgrade, Delta Centre and the Holiday Inn Hotel in Ljubljana – says Zorana Burlić, Director General of Delta Real Estate. Each of these buildings is a story in itself, and a step forward into something new.

You have announced that the Delta House office building will be much more than a workspace. What can your workers and the companies that will join you can expect from this building?

— When we say "more than a workspace" we mean, first and foremost, that the whole building is designed completely in line with the needs of the people who will work in it. As part of this project, we have been working on implementing the latest job concepts because workers today do not just want an office and a desk in it since a business space for them is also a vacation space. The 21st-century jobs can be stressful and often time-consuming, so it's important to provide people with working conditions that make them feel comfortable. That is why we are also going to have an exceptional restaurant and cafe at Delta House, as well as a gym because workers want to be in optimal physical shape without spending too much of their valuable time. An increasing number of companies want mobile jobs because they are saving money on them, and there is no need for their work-


WE, IN DELTA, ARE MOSTLY INTERESTED IN MODERN SPECIALIZED FACILITIES, SUCH AS SHOPPING MALLS AND HOTELS, WHICH REQUIRE LARGE CAPITAL INVESTMENTS AND EXPERTISE IN RUNNING SUCH BUSINESSES ers to sit in an office full time. This is resolved by the so-called touchdown jobs. Because employee health is paramount, we will maintain the oxygen level in the workplace at a level optimal for successful work and a comfortable atmosphere for everybody there. The project also envisages the maximum use of daylight. The other important thing is Delta House's highest environmental standards. The building is LEED-certified which means has met the highest requirements both during construction and later in use. It will have solar panels and collect and use rainwater to irrigate the plants.

The world-renowned architectural firm, MYS Architects designed the concept of the facility, while an American studio with an office in Paris, Studio S devised the interior concept. Because of all this, we really believe that Delta House, spanning 23,000 square metres, will be a unique office building and something Belgrade has not seen before. We are confident that the tenants will share the same opinion and will be happy to do business in our building.

This is not your only active construction site in Belgrade. Could you tell us more about the Indigo

— The Indigo Hotel is in the final stages and is expected to open in the autumn of this year. It will be the first hotel in Serbia from the Indigo chain, which operates under the IHG Group. This brand is known for respecting the culture, character and history of the environment in which it operates - from the design that fits the surroundings, to menus and the use of local ingredients in the kitchen. We want this hotel to be an ornament in Belgrade, especially because it is located in its central part, that is Knez Mihailova Street. As for the Autokomanda project, we, as a developer, are ready to launch it immediately; we have drafted the project and secured the financing. The only thing that we are missing is the permits. The plot on which we are planning to build the mall is the location of one of the buildings of the former Topovske Šupe concentration camp, which is why from the very beginning of planning to build the mall, we consulted and worked closely with the Jewish community to find the best architectural solution for this important landmark. The attitude of the Jewish community on this issue has not been uniformed or consistent so far, but we hope that now that the law governing the preservation of the Holocaust landmarks in Belgrade has been passed, we will find a common solution that this memorial site deserves because it is currently in a very neglected state. The Delta Planet shopping mall will create about 4,000 jobs, generate revenue for Belgrade’s budget of not less than 2 million euro and will enrich the tourist offer of our capital.

How appealing is the retail sector to you and why did you choose Niš to build the Delta Planet mall?


— Shopping malls have been one of our company's strategic businesses for many years. I would like to remind you that Delta Real Estate built the first modern shopping mall in Serbia, Delta City in Belgrade and several more shopping malls after that, which is why we believe that we have exceptional expertise in this area. This was validated through the success of Delta City in Belgrade and Podgorica, and now Delta Planet in Banja Luka and Varna, which are celebrating their first year of operation this month. I must point out that Delta Planet in Banja Luka has become a regional attraction, even positioning itself as a must-see tourist spot for all those tourists that gravitate towards the capital of the Republic of Srpska. When it comes to the city of Niš, it is the centre of a large region, so it shouldn’t be surprising that we had decided to build it there. Our analyses have shown that Delta Planet in Niš can attract not only visitors from the city itself but also from the entire region of southern Serbia, travellers from Bulgaria, as well as people using the E75 motorway. This shopping mall will span 40,000 square metres gross, with a total investment value of 70 million euro. Around 700 workers will be hired in the construction, and after the opening, the shopping mall will create about 1,500 new jobs. A city that is an industrial, tourist, administrative and university centre needs such a facility and we believe that this will be validated as early as the spring of 2021, when Delta Planet Niš will be opened and become a new city centre and a favourite place of its citizens, but also guests from the region.

such as shopping malls and hotels, which require large capital investments and expertise in their running. We always bring novelties and keep up with the latest world trends when implementing our real estate projects. In this way, we are pushing the boundaries of everything that exists in the markets in which we operate. In the shopping mall segment, we are introducing the latest concept that is the so-called retailtainment and in the hotel industry, we are introducing new and globally renowned hotel brands that dictate new trends, with top-notch service.

WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT DELTA HOUSE, SPANNING 23,000 SQUARE METRES, WILL BE A UNIQUE OFFICE BUILDING AND SOMETHING BELGRADE HAS NOT SEEN BEFORE A new IKEA concept store will be opened in Delta Planet in Varna, Bulgaria, the only such store in this part of Europe. What is so special about this project? — When we say IKEA everyone’s first thought associated with this brand, without exception, is huge warehouse-like spaces on city outskirts where we go to for large, intentional purchases. Recently, the Swedish furniture maker has changed its retail strategy, influenced by the ever-expanding e-commerce and decided to open new, urban formats in the central locations in major cities, where consumers will be able to buy more comfortably, which, in turn, requires less organization and saves time. The first such shop, which is a complete replica of large warehouses only in a smaller format, opened in Paris last year. We are

really proud that we were the first company in Southeastern Europe to bring IKEA city concept store to our Delta Planet in Varna, which will make this shopping mall stand out from anything similar in the Bulgarian market and the region. Large-scale work is being done in the mall as we speak and the feedback that we get in the field indicates that the residents of Varna are excited and can hardly wait for IKEA to open its doors.

Given that you do business in the region, what do you think of the development directions of the real estate market in Serbia and neighbouring countries?

— The whole region, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as Bulgaria and Albania, has a lot of space for real estate development. We, in Delta, are mostly interested in modern specialized facilities,

Which projects, besides the mentioned ones, will you focus on in the coming period?

— Delta Real Estate has embarked on a major investment cycle. In 2019, we completed the construction of 172,000 square metres of office space and began the construction of another 62,000. Our plan is to invest 400 million euro over the next 5 years and to build facilities spanning 370,000 square meters. Our focus will be on office buildings, shopping malls and hotels. Besides the aforementioned shopping mall in Autokomanda in Belgrade, the plan is to build a Delta Centre in Novi Beograd, an exclusive complex consisting of a prime quality office building, a luxury retail facility and the InterContinental Hotel. We will continue to develop in the countries in our region, and one of the projects that is the closest to its realization is the Holiday Inn Hotel in Ljubljana. In other regional countries, we are interested in greenfield investments, as well as acquisitions of some of the existing hotels, which fit into our business model.




Children Recognize a True Friend We know that happiness grows when it is shared with others and Dunav Osiguranje is a proven, sincere friend of children. Therefore, we will carry out our activities in 2020 under the slogan "A Friend from Childhood", wishing that the current generations of children will become and forever remain our friends Dunav Osiguranje, which celebrated last year 45 years of successful operations, donated over 120 million dinars to socially responsible projects for children in 2019. Thanks to its systematic investments in the community, and especially in the youngest generations, Dunav Osiguranje has become one of the first holders of the international IQNet SR 10 certificate in Serbia. In order to support children in all aspects of their growing up, in 2019, the company endorsed activities in education, sports, talent development and numerous children's events. In 2019, Dunav supported more than 50 children's sports clubs, as well as a regional event called the Youth Sports Games, involving over 100,000 children from 148 cities and towns in Serbia. "The Youth Sports Games proudly bore the name of the Dunav Osiguranje Company in 2019," said Ivana Jovanović, the Games' President, adding: "We are pleased to have demonstrated we can do a lot more together and that with these Games we have been able to bring joy to many children in Serbia." The company also supported sporting activities via a talent school which had over 1,500 students. With donations to more than 250 schools, Dunav has created better learning and living conditions for 500,000 children in


DUNAV OSIGURANJE'S CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY WAS RECOGNIZED AND AWARDED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATE IQNET SR 10, WHICH IS A KEY CERTIFICATION IN THE AREA OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Serbia. Like sports, the arts have also received generous support through talent schools with more than 1,170 students. That support has put the wind in the sails of many young promising people, and cooperation with local governments has also resulted in support for numerous children's events, as well as healthcare and cultural institutions involving 75,154 children. To celebrate New Year's and Christmas holidays, children from institutions and schools across

Serbia received 4,200 gifts. Mirko Petrović, Chairman of Dunav Osiguranje's Executive Board, underlined that investing in the youngest generations is the safest insurance policy for the future and that in 2020, these investments will be continued via a social responsibility programme, under the slogan "A Friend from Childhood". „Apart from 2019 being a jubilee year, it was also marked by Dunav recording the best business results since its inception. In 2019, we

have allocated over 120 million dinars or more than one million euro to various forms of support for the youngest population. In close cooperation with the Government, and in line with the vision of a modern insurance company, we will continue to build a more beautiful, humane and better country for our children. As Dunav Osiguranje develops, our support for youth, education, the arts and many other areas will grow too,” said Mirko Petrović. Long-Term cooperation with the project “S Tamarom u Akciji” was highlighted as one of the most important segments of social responsibility. In addition to the standard support in insuring reconstructed houses, in 2019, Dunav supported the renovation of schools across Serbia, which created better schooling conditions for students. "The management of this insurance company was a personal inspiration to me and was the first give me support in big social campaigns," said Tamara Grujić, author of the humanitarian television project "S Tamarom u Akciji." In the last three years since working together, 80 homes for socially disadvantaged families throughout Serbia were insured, and this year, 24 families in Vojvodina will have a new home, while Dunav Osiguranje will provide them with Čuvarkuća insurance package. The renovation of a primary school in Vojvodina is also planned for the autumn.





Proven Brand as a Magnet for Guests Thanks to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Banja Luka, which is a part of the large Marriott family, guests know that they can expect the highest quality of service just like anywhere in the world. At the same time, Banja Luka has found its place on the global tourist maps ROBERT STOJKO Director of the Courtyard Hotel, Banja Luka

The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Banja Luka is the first and only branded hotel in the town and is part of the globally renowned Marriott International Hotel Group, which has the largest portfolio in the hotel industry, over 30 brands and more than 7,000 hotels in 131 countries and territories. "Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Banja Luka adheres to and operates in line with the standards and procedures defined for each of the Marriott brands, which guarantees our guests the same experience that our guests can expect to get in any city in the world where the Courtyard brand is present," says Robert Stojko, Director of the Courtyard Hotel Banja Luka.

What is the hotel’s capacity?

— The hotel has 340 square metres of conference space, with the latest equipment and adapted to the business world. We have multifunctional and divisible conference rooms with a seating capacity


from 10 to 160 guests and cocktail parties for up to 200 guests. The conference room at the gallery has plenty of daylight and is ideal for smaller events and conferences. There is also a special, state-ofthe-art boardroom for business meetings with up to 10 people.

What other amenities do you offer to your guests?

— Business guests have at their disposal a business centre with computers and a printer, with every part of the centre having access to power and built-in chargers for their devices without them having to interrupt their daily routine. The guest can also enjoy the gastronomic offer in our restaurants and Maestro Kitchen & Bar. Maestro Kitchen & Bar also fea-

tures an outdoor bar, ideal for short business meetings or for relaxing after a day of work, with a cocktail or a glass of fine wine in hand. All hotel guests have access to a modern, well-equipped fitness centre. We are currently working on equipping the multifunctional Sky Bar on the 11th floor of the hotel, a place for both hotel guests and visitors in which they can organize their events or enjoy their favourite pizza, as well as the beautiful view of Banja Luka.

How important is the Courtyard by Marriott Banja Luka for the town’s tourist offer?

— By being part of the large Marriott family, Courtyard by Marriott Banja Luka now has a place on the world map of the hotel industry


and has become a part of the global tourist offer. By the opening of the hotel, the town of Banja Luka has now also found itself on these same maps. The presence of a hotel brand in the town, which is internationally recognized like Courtyard by Marriott with its 1,000 hotel across the globe, gives guests the assurance that they are in for a familiar treat. Also, it is something that they have not had the opportunity to get in Banja Luka so far. Our loyalty programme, Marriott BonVoy, which is the largest loyalty programme in the world with over 140 million members worldwide, also makes a huge contribution to the positioning of our hotel and thus Banja Luka on the tourist map of the region. The programme members have the opportunity to enjoy various benefits as a result of their stay at Marriott hotels, including free travel and free accommodation, which many members use to visit and explore destinations that were not attractive to them, among other things, because there were no hotels in that particular destination that they could stay in.




Standing by Democracy, preparing for the Election Day Photo: Zoran Drekalović

We are impartial toward political players, but in a wider picture we have our side- we are standing by democracy. That is to say we truly believe that elections are not a mere technical operation. The free and fair elections are the very essence of democracy


As the elections are approaching, with ever growing frequency we in Crta are being asked if we are going to call citizens to go to the polls or to boycott. That question keeps coming from the professional media, from the social media users, from the people we meet in person… It shows the widespread lack of understanding for the mission we have as the election observers’ organization and the level of impartiality we have to exercise. In general, impartiality seems to be the hardest word these days in Serbia. The word, actually the principal or the value it denotes can get you in a lot of trouble. Regarding the elections, it’s like the countless shades of grey are melting into a sharp blackand-white picture, into a single dilemma – elections or boycott? Like there’s no more time to question the quality of the electoral process, the substantial issues that are defining whether voters will be enabled to express their free will and make decisions on the grounds of relevant information and knowledge about diversified


political offers. Right now, it is pretty much late for significant improvements in the process that is critical for democracy, but even seven months ago, when the inter-party dialogue on the electoral conditions was beginning, one could also sense the weak faith amongst the participants that much could (or should) really be done for the sake of the free and fair elections. Not to mention how difficult it was for Crta in the previous years to grab any of

paign period, or initiated steps towards verifying the Voter Registry, this could not hide the fact that the Government rejected, inverted the content or underperformed in implementation of many substantial measures. The good practice not to change electoral laws in the election year, recommended by the Venice Commission, and also endorsed by all participants in the 2019 dialogue was breached. More changes were made within the electoral system

WE ARE CALLING CITIZENS TO JOIN US IN OVERCOMING THE FEARS AND DEFENDING THE ESSENTIAL DEMOCRATIC VALUES. BECAUSE, ON THE OPPOSITE TO DEMOCRACY, WE SEE ONLY MORE FEARS the local stakeholders’ attention for its efforts aimed on raising the standards of the election process. What has been conducted in relation to improving the elections in the last months could be described as too many changes, but too little hope. Although Serbia for the first time legally defined a public resource and election campaign, set up the deadlines for the Anti-Corruption Agency to act upon complaints during cam-

in a few weeks than in the previous 20 years. Moreover, it was all done without proper debate and careful consideration of the impact those changes would have. The last minute state interventions within the electoral system design and representation rules only seem to be aimed on blurring the fact that the seats in the parliament will still be won under dubious electoral conditions. To stress once again, it is not up

to us to do the get-out-to-vote or the boycott campaign. CRTA is not going to do that. But we surely are meticulously observing everything that is relevant for the quality of the elections and we will not restrain from saying our judgement on how democratic, fair and free they are. One more thing on impartiality – yes, we are impartial toward political players, but in a wider picture we have our side. We are standing by democracy. The elections, as we see them, are not just a mere technical operation that can be done, even in order to preserve status quo. The elections cannot be a cheap price to pay to put on a label of democracy. The free and fair elections are the very essence of democracy. At the moment, we feel that, locally and globally, democracy trembles with fear as the key message of Crta’s ongoing campaign puts it. Weakening institutions, eroding media freedoms, fading social dialogue, growing instability in the region, rising extremisms… Those are big sources of fears. We are calling citizens to join us in overcoming the fears and defending the essential democratic values. Because, on the opposite to democracy, we see only more fears.



Elections 2020: New Electoral Rules in an Atmosphere of Boycott

BOJAN KLAČAR Executive Director of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID)

Providing there are no surprises, Serbian citizens will go to the polls on April 26th. This will be the twelfth parliamentary election, of which only the fourth regular (including the first multi-party elections in 1990). This will also be the seventh election since 2000 and after the fall of Slobodan Milošević (only the third regular), while citizens will vote for the fourth time in parliamentary elections in less than eight years (2012). In addition to the parliamentary election, provincial and local elections will be held on April 26th too. WHAT KIND OF ATMOSPHERE SURROUNDS THESE ELECTIONS?

Public opinion in Serbia reacts to this election with concerns related to the living standard, unemployment and corruption/crime, but also with a high percentage of citizens satisfied with the direction the country is taking (more than 40% of the population in Serbia, according to public surveys). Depopulation trends are pronounced, the average age is high (almost 20% of the population is over 65), and for the first time, Serbia’s population has dropped below 7 million. Such trends affect not only the electoral roll and the number of voters who have access to polling stations, but they also affect the political choices of citizens and the level of their political activism. Part of the opposition in Serbia will boycott the election for the first time since 1997. Meanwhile, some of the parties boycotted voting in the 2006 constitutional referendum, and there have been different types of boycotts carried out in the region – in Albania,

Montenegro and North Macedonia - with variable success. The Alliance for Serbia (SZS), the strongest oppositional political organization (their latest ratings are between 9% and 12%), is the driving force behind the boycott which it has officially announced at a gathering at the Kombank Hall. In such circumstances, the election campaign will only mean a continuation of polarization in political life. The campaign will be brimming with emotions, political divides and mistrust. The ruling party and the opposition have long been living in parallel realities, and the collateral damage of this process is growing apathy and propagation of political cynicism. The opposition expects the delegitimization of the government after this election, but it is difficult to say that the boycott will succeed in that respect. Firstly, there is no legal quota that says what constitutes successful or unsuccessful

Photo: FONET

The ruling party and the opposition have long been living in parallel realities, and the collateral damage of this process is growing apathy and propagation of political cynicism

nently campaigning already and partly because the opposition parties do not have the resources for a more serious electoral race. Lowering the electoral threshold from 5% to 3% is a premature move, made without a proper debate, which will further fragment the political scene, thus partially opening up the serious topic of electoral

THE THING THAT IS LESS SPOKEN ABOUT OR IS TRIVIALIZED IN THE PUBLIC SPACE IS MAJOR CONSEQUENCES THAT WILL OCCUR AFTER THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS elections. Secondly, although lower turnout is expected (since 2000, the turnout in parliamentary elections in Serbia has not been less than 53% or 3.5 million voters), one should not expect a drastic decline as support for the ruling parties is quite stable. A more serious crisis can only occur in the absence of any sort of pluralism in the parliament, providing that only the ruling and minority parties go over the electoral threshold. Bearing in mind earlier experiences and the practices of the Serbian Progressive Party (from 2014 onwards), we are going to see a shorter campaign, partly because the ruling party has been perma-

reform. The move is accompanied by other measures that can lead to several challenges, such as a different calculation of places in the parliament for minority lists (which will lead to a deviation in political representation), and no proper public debate about this issue. It is very difficult to predict the election outcome today because we do not yet know who all the electoral stakeholders are or the arrangements in which they will take part, as we do not even know what the upcoming election campaign will look like. This is especially important because estimates suggest that half a million citizens (or even more than that) make

their voting decision in the campaign’s photo-finish. It is certain, however, that there are only two electoral lists that will definitely exceed the threshold, namely those compiled by the SNS and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Legislative changes have been made to accommodate the political parties of national minorities, so it would be no surprise if they got more representation now compared to the previous parliament convocation. All other political organizations have to make a huge effort to reach the electoral threshold, despite it being reduced recently. We are talking about a minimum of 90,000 votes that will be required to win. In this black-and-white atmosphere, with small resources and no infrastructure, this threshold is not easily attainable. The thing that is less spoken about or is trivialized in the public space is major consequences that will occur after the upcoming elections. Political life will look significantly different, it will turn more to the right and in the direction of Euro-skepticism, fragmentation will be expressed at all levels and especially at the local level, while the trend of empowerment of "soft" political organizations with insufficient capacity for the stronger articulation of opposition votes will continue.



27 Kopaonik Business Forum in Light of Industry 4.0 th

The Serbian Davos - a place of dialogue for all stakeholders in social, economic and political life. A meeting to discuss all the most important topics for our society

The recently finished 27th Kopaonik Business Forum brought together more than 1,300 participants with a single mission - to understand and actively shape the economic and business ecosystems of our region in an effort to launch new initiatives based on innovation and universal mobility. The fiscal consolidation measures in Serbia resulted in macroeconomic stability. Conditions for sustainable growth were established. In the past two years, Serbia has seen growth in economic activity at rates above 4% per year. The downward trend of the public debt's share in gross domestic product (GDP) continued, the fiscal equilibrium was maintained and, after a long time, the share of total investments was


above 23% of the national GDP. It is up to economic policy makers to use the existing stability to further grow and implement the Industry 4.0 postulates. According to the organizers,

exchange of critical opinions can create high-quality and sustainable solutions. Accordingly, businesspeople, economy theorists, representatives of international financial organizations, as well as

THE CONCLUSIONS OF THIS YEAR'S KOPAONIK BUSINESS FORUM INCLUDE CONCEPTS SUCH AS MACROECONOMIC BALANCE AND STABILITY, THE RULE OF LAW, DOMESTIC INVESTMENTS, THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, EDUCATION AND INNOVATION this most important economic gathering in Serbia represents a platform for dialogue between different stakeholders in social and political life. Only argument-supported discussion,

those who create economic policies, come to the Forum. The central theme of this year's Kopaonik Business Forum, organized for the 27th time by the Serbian Association of Economists

of Serbia, was Industry 4.0 and related topics: the challenges of the future. A great number of panels were dedicated to digitization, education, smart specialization, employment policy, economic migrations, gender equity, impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on traditional business sectors. "The central theme of the KBF 2020 is equally important for all countries in the region as major dramatic changes are underway that will alter the world, the way it will produce, distribute and exchange value. A period of uncertainty is ahead of us, so a response to vital changes requires an integrative action of the entire society,� Aleksandar Vlahović, president of the Serbian Association of Economists and the Program Board of the Kopaonik Business Forum, says


for Diplomacy & Commerce. "A time of great change is an opportunity for small, underdeveloped countries. But to take advantage of the opportunities that Industry 4.0 brings about requires clear social and political strategies and an understanding that transformation will encompass all social and political institutions, as well as individuals." Special attention at the Forum was focused on education, which, according to Vlahović, must be a pillar of the development policy of our country and the whole region. In the time of knowledge-based economy, education must be a primary objective of both the government and the entire society. Other discussed topics included artificial intelligence, inclusive growth and the need to pay special attention to climate change. Jorgovanka Tabaković, Governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Siniša Mali, Serbian Minister of Finance, Jan Kees Martijn, Head of IMF Mission to Serbia, addressed the guests at the opening ceremony of the Serbian Davos, and Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation. Research, Culture, Education and Youth sent

a special video message. Just like in previous years, the KBF validated its great regional importance - out of 28 panels, nearly 20 were dedicated to the topics that are important for the entire region. A panel attended by former Western Balkan presidents and prime

Mellon University, a former student the Mathematics Gymnasium and one of the leading computer scientists in the world, gave the socalled open interview as a guest. Professor Kavčić is the author of eight patents in the IT segment. He spoke at the Forum about the im-

A TIME OF GREAT CHANGE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SMALL, UNDERDEVELOPED COUNTRIES“ ministers, who are not politically active today and who are gathered around the Podgorica Club, drew a lot of attention. For the first time at the Kopaonik Business Forum, Professor Aleksander Kavčić, from Carnegie

portance of patent protection and his own experience in the matter. He is also known to the world public as the winner of a major lawsuit that he, together with his university, won against Marvel Technologies. This company sought to

THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION The term fourth industrial revolution was first used by Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, who said: „We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.“

challenge the intellectual property of Professor Kavčić and his mentor Professor Jose Moura. On the last day of the Forum, Zoran Djordjević, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Vanja Udovičić, Minister of Youth and Sports, Regina de Dominicis, UNICEF Director for Serbia, and Siniša Krneta, Director of the Belgrade Stock Exchange, addressed the participants in the plenary session. In her speech, Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, underlined that the year 2020 would be a turning point due to the beginning of the third stage of the country's transformation, adding that the emphasis would be on digitization and Industry 4.0. The Serbian Association of Economists will summarize the conclusions from all panels held at the Kopaonik Business Forum in the next period and draft a document traditionally called the Kopaonik Consensus. This document will be submitted to economic policymakers in our country, the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the National Bank of the Republic of Serbia, and it will be available to public at the Kopaonik Business Forum website.





meeting of the Croatian Business Club’s Assembly was held at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Serbia, with more than 20 members in attendance. At the meeting, the minutes from the Assembly’s last year’s meeting were adopted, as well as the CBS's Operations Report for 2019.

The Assembly of the Croatian Business Club (CBC) unanimously adopted a proposal for the re-election of its existing President and Vice-President Marija Radulović and Stanko Krstin respectively, and the appointment of Danijela Galov as a Managing Board member. The

Pero Mijakić, Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Stjepan Glas, Minister Plenipotentiary of Croatian Embassay



The National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) today presented the Gray Book 12 containing 27 new recommendations for improving the conditions for doing business and combating the shadow economy. Chairman of NALED’s Executive Board, Dejan Djokić said that the Gray Book identifies problems and proposes solutions, while NALED, with the support from international organizations, works with institutions to

implement these reforms. "Of the 241 recommendations that have made it to the Gray Book so far, as many as 118 or every second recommendation has been incorporated into legislation," said NALED's Chairman of the Executive Board. NALED also gave out team awards to civil servants on this occasion. The EU Delegation, USAID, the British Good Governance Fund and the German GIZ have all given their support to the reform implementation.

Dejan Djokić and Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister



Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister

The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia (HBA) celebrated this year's traditional event of Vasilopita Cutting, held on February 11th at Grand Casino. In addition to representatives of the member companies and the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade, this year's

Rita Lozinsky, honorary member HBA with Stylianos Zakof


ceremony was also attended by friends of the Association.The guests were soon addressed by Executive Director Ms. Selena Djordjevic, and the President of the Management Board, Stylianos Zakof, who wished them a lot of luck, success and prosperity in 2020.

Stylianos Zakof and Selena Djordjević



On the occasion of the 41st Anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian Embassy organised a celebration in Villa Jelena in Belgrade. In 1979, the people of Iran overthrew the last Shah and established Islamic Republic. The ambassador of Iran, H. E. Davoud Zamaniyan held a


H. E. Davoud Zamaniyan

H.E. Choe Hyoung Chan, Korean Ambassador and H. E. Subrata Bhattacharjee, Ambassador of India



H.E. Jean-Louis Falconi



speech in which reminded the guests of its event and mentioned friendly relations between the two countries. The highlight of the evening was the famous calligraphic master Mohsen Ebrahimi who was writing the names of the guests in Persian calligraphic style all night long.

Zoran Djordjević, Minister

On the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Serbia and France, a reception was organised yesterday at the French Embassy, and French Ambassador Jean-Louis Falconi said on this occasion that

France supports Serbia's European future. The reception was attended by Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs Zoran Đorđević, representatives of the diplomatic corps, high-ranking officials and personalities from Serbian and French public and cultural life.

H.E. Nikolaus Lutterotti, Austrian Ambassador and H.E.Anthony Godfrey, US Ambassador

The Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Serbia organized a festive reception on the occasion of the Emperor of Japan's birthday at the Belgrade City Assembly. The guests were greeted by H.E. Junichi Maruyama, the Japanese ambassador to Belgrade. Emperor Naruhito will turn 60 on February 23, 2020, and he is the 126th

H.E. Junichi Maruyama

emperor in line with the traditional heritage system. The era of Emperor Naruhito's reign is called "Reiva" and began on May 1, 2019. The first ideogram represents "beauty," while the second translates as "harmony." The official inauguration ceremony of His Imperial Crown Prince Naruhito was held on October 22, 2019.

Zoran Djordjevič, Minister, Nebojša Stefanović, Minister and H.E. Junichi Maruyama







H. E. Yusuf Ahmad Abdulsamad



Kuwait ambassador to Serbia H. E. Yusuf Ahmad Abdulsamad organized a reception at the Hyatt Hotel on the occasion of his country's national day. Addressing the officials, he recalled that Kuwait marks 59 years of independence and 29 years of liberation, as well as the 14th anniversary of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah's coming to power.

On this occasion, he wished his country and people to maintain stability, prosperity, security and further development. He stressed that this year marks the 56th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Kuwait and Serbia. The reception was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps, figures from religious, cultural and public life.

H. E. Yusuf Ahmad Abdulsamad with his wife and Nebojša Jeremić, politician

The Russian Embassy hosted a festive reception on the occasion of the Russian national holiday of Fatherland Defenders Day, hosted by Ambassador H. E. Alexander Botsan - Kharchenko. The reception was also attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. He said it was a great honor for Russia to mark the 75th anniver-

sary of the end of World War II with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 9. The Ambassador said the celebration of Fatherland Defenders’ Day commemorates an event that is crucial in Russian history and is "a symbol of the Russian military, heroic tradition, patriotism and unity of the military and the people."

H. E. Alexander Botsan - Kharchenko and H.E. Mohammed K. M. Nabhan, Ambassador of Palestine



New board of Directors of AmCham


The American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia (AmCham) will have a new board of directors for the next two years, headed by Zoran Petrović, Chairman of the Executive Board of Raiffeisen Bank, who was appointed for a two-year term. In addition to the new President, the members of the AmCham General Assembly voted to appoint Ivan Miletić, PMI, as the First Vice-President, Ronald Seeliger, Hemofarm, as the Second Vice-President,

as well as four members of the Managing Board: Živorad Vasić, IHG Area, Milana Jević Gledović, Delhaize Serbia, Sandra Marinković, MSD, and Borislav Miljanović, Represent System. "AmCham will continue to advocate for improving the business environment in Serbia, expediting economic and regulatory reforms, as well as establishing predictable and equal business rules for all",the new President of AmCham, Zoran Petrović pointed out.

Zoran Petrović, New chairman of the board of directors of AmCham




Tomislav Momirović, President of the Managing Board of Mona Hotel Management



Tanja Žigić, Director of the Nestlé factory in Surčin

President Aleksandar Vučić at the grand opening of the hotel Mona Plaza

Nestlé, a global leader in food and beverage production, celebrated 15 years of successful operations in Serbia at the Royal Court, on 27th February 2020. On this occasion, the company’s management spoke about the past year’s results, underlined the importance of new projects and proudly highlighted the continuous investments in the local community and the creation of common values. The celebration was also attended by numerous

guests, including the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the diplomatic corps, non-governmental organizations, business partners and associations and the media, as well as H.E. Philip Guex, Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E. Adam Koenraad, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Subrata Bhattacharjee, Ambassador of India, H.E. Alona Fischer-Kamm, Ambassador of Israel and many others.

Management of Nestle and H.E. Philippe Gérald Guex with his wife


investor, and of Mona Hotel Management. The hotel covers nearly 20 thousand m2 and is built upon the latest global technological solutions in the hotel sector. The hotel has 170 accommodation units, conference and banquet rooms for more than 1,000 gusts, gastro bar and restaurant, fitness and spa centar and parking lot.

Cherishing heritage with strong growth of hotel business. A new hotel of the Mona Hotel Management company – Mona Plaza, has been opened at Lower Dorćol in Belgrade. An opening ceremony has been attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, as well as more than 300 guests and business partners of Mona, which is the project


Every year on March 1st, Romanians celebrate a day dedicated to Martisor - a symbol of the awakening of nature after the long winter and the

re-arrival of spring. On this occasion, Romanian Ambassador to Serbia Oana Cristina Popa hosted a cocktail and concert of young talents at her residence.

H.E. Thomas Schieb, German Ambassador





02 THE 48th FEST MAR


At the Canadian residence, the organisers and guests of this year's Fest gathered at a festive cocktail party last night. As the host, Canadian Ambassador to Serbia, Kati Csaba thanked the attendees and introduced the filmmakers who showcase their performances at the festival this year, coming from Canada. Among them are the famous director Atom Egoyan, who presents the movie "Honorary Guest", then the

young director Vladimir Bilenjki with the movie "Dad", as well as actress Mirjana Joković and director Sanja Živković who are at the festival with the realization of "Easy land". - Fest is an important festival, and it is a great honor for us to have five performances from Canada premiered this year - said Csaba, adding that Egoyan will hold a master class for students from Belgrade on Wednesday at Kombank Hall.

Goran Bogdan, actor and H.E. Kathleen Csaba, Canadian Ambassador with her husband

Ambassador with her husband



Bulgarian Ambassador to Serbia H. E. Radko Vlajkov and his wife Yoana organised a reception at the Metropol Hotel on the occasion of their country's national holiday Martenitsa. He recalled good diplomatic relations between

H.E. Kathleen Csaba, Canadian Ambassador and H.E. Oana-Cristina Popa, Ambassador of Romania



Bulgaria and Serbia and cooperation that is developing in many other fields, such as economy, culture and tourism. The ambassador stressed that Bulgaria is interested in keeping its neighbours and the region stable and based on democratic values.

H.E. Andrea Orizio, Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia and H.E. Radko Todorov Vlaykov , Bulgarian Ambassador with his wives

The Turkish embassy marked the 37th anniversary of the death of the former Turkish ambassador to Serbia, Galip Balkar, who was assassinated by the members of the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA in 1983. Ambassador Balkar was killed while on duty, on his way to a meeting in Belgrade, in a car at a traffic light in General Ždanova Street (today's Resavska

Street). After a minute of silence, the Turkish Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Tanju Bilgiç said terrorism knew no border, race, religion and nationality and that everyone must fight against it. The US Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Anthony Godfrey laid flowers on the memorial plaque while members of other foreign missions in Serbia also paid their respects.

H.E. Anthony Godfrey, US Ambassador to Serbia, representative of the Government of Serbia, H.E. Mohammed K. M. Nabhan, Ambassador of Palestine and H.E. Tanju Bilgiç H.E. Tanju Bilgiç




VTMN Natural Beauty Concept A beauty salon of unique concept - Vitamin (VTMN) Natural Beauty Concept - was opened in Belgrade this January

Thanks to its beautiful interior and being surrounded with natural plants, staying at VTMN gives you the feeling that you are on a short, out-of-town break. VTMN Natural Beauty Concept's professional and experienced team has a holistic approach to every customer and provides a wide range of services that cover all your needs. By using a varied range of premium quality natural products, our team of highly trained professionals will take care of all your needs and ensure that, after treatment at VTMN

Natural Beauty Concept, you will feel the inner peace and serenity. In this oasis of peace, we are presenting the French brand Blancreme for the first time in our market. This remarkable brand of all-natural ingredients, free of parabens and additives, with fruit and vegetable extracts, is fully in line with the VTMN Natural Beauty Concept. The packaging, scent and texture of

Blancreme’s products immediately remind you of the wonderful French specialities. Since the brand is committed to environmental protection, each packaging can be used for other purposes after its contents have been spent. In this modern day and age, fast-paced and often chaotic life, time has become a luxury, hence VTMN’s doors are open to you from 8 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.





CIVIL AND BUSINESS SECTORS ANNOUNCE INTEGRATIONS AND INNOVATIONS The business sector and civil society need to work together to monitor and support reforms during the European integration process, as well as work to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – this was a key message of the event, organized by the Belgrade Open School with the support of the Kingdom of Sweden. At the Integration-Innovation event, business and civil sector representatives gathered to create new opportunities for the involvement of the two sectors in policymaking and advocacy. H.E. Jan Lundin, the Swedish Ambassador to Serbia and Vesna Đukić, Director General of the Belgrade Open School (BOS), officially opened the event on behalf of the organizers with numerous

guests in attendance. The event introduced new models of cooperation between the civil and business sectors and analyzed the existing models in Europe and the world that apply to our country. The Belgrade Open School, as part of the project "Civil Society for the Advancement of Serbia's Accession to the European Union", which is implemented with the Swedish support, will continue to foster cooperation between the two sectors through a series of activities in order to launch new initiatives based on shared values.


Dragan Filipović, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Generali Osiguranje Serbia and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Generali Osiguranje Montenegro, has been declared the best manager in Serbia in 2019 and the winner of the Planet Business Award, according to the editors of Biznis magazine. Filipović has been chosen as the recipient of Planet Business because of successfully managing the company and

contributing to the development of the insurance industry in Serbia. In his thank-you speech, Dragan Filipović said: “It is a great honour and pleasure to receive this recognition, and I am especially pleased to be the recipient of the award in the year when Ekonometar and Biznis magazines are celebrating their 15th anniversary.” Dragan Filipović is a manager who has built a brilliant career over the past 26 years, working first at the largest domestic private company and then in the insurance industry. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, he worked for Delta Holding in 1994 and was responsible for the development of several different profit centres.

Brose had a groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of the construction of the company's manufacturing complex in Pančevo, Serbia. The ceremony took place in the presences of the representatives of the political and business life, as well as the media. Brose plans to launch mass production of engines and electronics for cooling fan modules at a 220,000-square-foot site in Pančevo by the summer of 2021. "Brose Group supplies the automotive industry with around 200 million electric motors a year. We are responding to the growing demand for our products by expanding our global development and manufacturing network and boosting our competitiveness,” said Thomas Spangler, Chief Technology Officer at Brose. This is Brose's first location in Serbia and the ninth factory in the world to produce electric motors. In addition to the manufacturing facility where the automotive components will be manufactured, Brose is going to build a development centre. "With the arrival of Brose, we were able to bring an innovative, long-term-oriented, family-owned business to Serbia. I am pleased that such a successful globally renowned automotive supplier has an exceptional work environment and attractive jobs" said the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.


UNICREDIT BANK, TOP EMPLOYER Top Employers Institute certified UniCredit Bank Serbia and UniCredit Group as leading employers in Serbia and Europe for ptoviding excellent employee conditions, confirming in this way the status as great place to work. In addition to Serbia, seven other countries where UniCredit is present are certified. The annual, international research undertaken by the Top Employers Institute recognises the leading employers around the world: those that provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation and strive to continuously optimise employment practices.The Top Employers Certification is based on a thorough research process and a set of required standards. All the data was independently


audited, verifying UniCredit's outstanding employee conditions and earning the Bank its spot among the select group of certified Top Employers. The Top Employers Institute assessed UniCredit's employee offering based on the following criteria: Talent Strategy, Workforce Planning, Talent Acquisition, On-Boarding, Learning & Development, Performance Management, Leadership Development, Career & Succession Management, Compensation & Benefits, Culture.

For the seventh consecutive year, AmCham's representatives had a task of selecting one 'Hero' among the exceptional individuals, institutions and non-profit organizations which, through their activities, made a remarkable impact on the entire society. This year's AmCham Hero of the Year Award was presented to Tamara Klarić, Bogdan Stevanović and the NURDOR Association's "Make a Bigger Step" campaign. Thanks to the "Make a Bigger Step" campaign and a phone application that brought together 500,000 people and over 60 companies, over 50 million dinars were raised to build the NURDOR Parent House, to support children with cancer and their families. For each kilometre that an application user walked the socially responsible companies have set aside an appropriate amount of money. The app is still active and anyone who installs it via a mobile phone can join it.


AT THE HELM OF SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT The European Investment Bank (EIB) participated in this year’s Kopaonik Business Forum in panels on climate change, infrastructure and regional integration, which took place on 3 March. On this occasion, the bank presented its new environmental policy, which is a milestone in the fight against climate change and the preservation of a healthy environment. During the panels, the EIB underlined that it would continue to support the integration of the Western Balkan countries through the construction and reconstruction of regional and local roads, rail and river transport, as well as the modernization of the energy and digital network. So far, the EIB has invested over € 4 billion through various loans and donations. The European Investment Bank (EIB) was among the first institutions to adopt a revolutionary energy policy, thereby driving the transition to an environmentally and socially sustainable economy. To this end, over the next 10 years, the bank will support an investment of one billion euro in the decarbonisation of the economy and suspend the financing of all projects which use fossil fuel and gas, ending in 2021. In addition to focusing on sustainable development, one of the EIB's top priorities is to improve the integration in the Western Balkan countries, as well as their accession in the European Union.

13TH ANNUAL ELECTION ASSEMBLY OF SERBIAN ASSOCIATION OF MANAGERS The Serbian Association of Managers has elected a new president, Dragoljub Damljanović, who will take over from Stanka Pejanović and head the largest association of managers in the country for the next three years. Dragoljub Damljanović works for Schneider Electric as Vice President of Energy and Services in Southeastern Europe. He has been a member of SAM since 2014. He has received valuable business honours, including the 2017 Manager of the Year Award and the 2018 Youth Leadership Promotion and Development Award. The 'fresh blood' of the Association will be working towards the two-way exchange and improvement of knowledge used by managers, and above all, the use of that knowledge and experience to achieve greater accountability in terms of important business and

social topics such as circular migration, brain drain, digital transformation, changing business models, communications, etc. By taking responsible action SAM will seek to create a better and more secure future for new generations and society. During the past year, SAM members highlighted the topic of keeping young people in Serbia at the Managers Forum, which brought together the biggest companies, government representatives and student organizations to jointly find solutions that can contribute to attracting staff and investing in people. This topic will also be a priority in 2020.


"INTERNATIONAL COFFEE BREAK" 11 bilateral business organizations in Serbia gathered their members in the cozy and informal ambience of the Grand Hotel during the Kopaonik Business Forum, at an event called "International Coffee Break". For their Kopaonik present members, the meeting was organized by the following bilateral organizations: Belgian-Serbian Business Association, British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Confindustria Serbia, French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Hellenic Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, Dutch-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Business Club, Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia, Chamber of Italian-Serbian Businessmen, German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce - AHK Serbia and Slovenian Business Club. According to the organizers, participants of the forum had an opportunity to meet and network with each other at the International Coffee Break, as well as to meet representatives of bilateral business organizations and learn more about them.

Slovenian Business Club and Croatian Business Club organized a working breakfast.On this occasion was hosted the SeCons Development Initiative Group, which operates as an independent organization of experts and was established with the aim to contribute to the long-term socio-economic development and improvement of living conditions of individuals and social groups in Serbia and the region as well. The theme of this working breakfast was “Let’s share the

care” and belongs to a one-year initiative and represents part of the comprehensive project “Gender Responsible Governance – Redistributing Unpaid Work”. Within the topic, discussion covered following matters: Reasons for starting the initiative; Whether and how companies have implemented this initiative; Benefits of using parental leave by fathers: impact on children’s physical and mental development; The effects of using parental leave, which are manifested in the work of employees; Employer Branding opportunity, and additional promotions; The working breakfast was attended by a large number of members of both clubs; At this meeting attendees exchanged their experiences, shared with everyone examples that they were familiar with. After the formal part discussion was continued in the informal atmosphere over the breakfast.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR REQUIRES QUALITY MANAGEMENT Serbia is recording a huge increase in construction, and in 2020, it is expected to set a record in the construction of apartments, office and retail space, which requires professional management that will manage real estate, it was concluded at a panel on the main drivers of the construction industry in Serbia held within the Kopaonik Business Forum 2020. CEO of Novaston Real Estate Management Platform Mia Zečević said it is known how many new square metres will be built in Serbia over the next three years, after which the market situation will be reviewed.According to Zečević, it is important to invest in young people, in

continuous improvement of employees, because it is the only way to be competitive. In addition to Novaston platform CEO Mia Zečević, the panel “Construction Industry – the main driver of higher growth rate” was also addressed by Robert Yahav, CEO of BIG CEE, and Peđa Petronijević, CEO of GTC. The panel was moderated by Nebojša Nešovanović, Senior Director, Head of Valuation SEE at CBRE.



THE FIRST IN THE REGION TO INTRODUCE PLANT-BASED PACKAGING The Nectar Group, a leader in the regional fruit juice market, has presented the first regional report on sustainable business and, among other things, announced investments in green energy production in the amount of EUR 7 million and the new plant-based packaging as its strategic commitment to sustainable business. Nectar is the first company in the region to announce that it will start using plant-based packaging with its long-standing partner and the global leader in the cardboard packaging segment, Tetra Pak. "This packaging is 84% plant-sourced from sugarcane and emitting 18% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than standard packaging," said Dušica Bojić, Marketing Manager for Southeast Europe at Tetra Pak. Further improvements in energy efficiency and an investment of over EUR 7 million in sustainable energy sources have been announced. “Through our partnership with local governments, we will work on improving our recycling waste collection model by increasing our water efficiency by at least 15% by 2027 and introducing a wastewater treatment system. We are doing all this because we care about doing business sustainably and the society we are leaving to future generations, ” says Mihailo Janković.

OTP LEASING SERBIA’S OFFER THAT DRIVES CHANGE At a time when it is imperative that we focus on the environment that is constantly exposed to the powerful impact of various pollutants, especially after the Industrial Revolution, the auto-industry is particularly dedicated to innovation in an effort to address this problem. Producing vehicles that do not emit harmful substances into the atmosphere is a major step forward for our planet, but in the past decade, access to these vehicles was not at a satisfactory level. In order to encourage, support and contribute to the creation of a better quality environment, market leader OTP Leasing Serbia has prepared a special offer for financing electric and hybrid vehicles, which is not subsidized by suppliers. These vehicles represent the guards of our environment, and with such a unique market offer, with a variable interest rate of 2.20% and processing costs of 0.2%, they have now become a reality. The loans that OTP Bank offers for these vehicles will also soon be adapted to the market.


UNIQA EXPANDS IN CEE UNIQA purchases AXA subsidiaries in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia growth markets. Acquisition results in 5 million new customers and €800 million in additional premiums. Five million customers, 2,100 employees and €800 million in premiums – these are the cornerstones of the companies of the French AXA Group in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia that UNIQA is acquiring, subject to legal approval. The targets of the acquisition are life and non-life insurance companies, investment firms, pension funds and service companies of the AXA Group in these three countries. UNIQA is currently the tenth largest company on the market in Poland with 1.5 million customers, the sixth largest in the Czech Republic with 800,000 customers and the fourth in Slovakia with 500,000 customers. For its part, AXA will

add 3.2 million customers in Poland, 800,000 in the Czech Republic and 750,000 in Slovakia, making UNIQA number five in Poland and Czech Republic and number four in Slovakia respectively. The product mix is almost balanced, with 35% in life insurance and 65% in property business. The completion of the transaction is subject to all necessary regulatory approvals. UNIQA was advised on the transaction by HSBC.


In collaboration with the Career Development Centre of the University of Belgrade, the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce held a panel discussion for students called "Skills of the Future" on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the University of Belgrade's Rectorate Hall. Director of the French-Serbian Chamber

of Commerce, Sanja Ivanić and the Rector of the University of Belgrade, Ivanka Popović, welcomed those present. The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Belgrade last year and accordingly initiated, in cooperation with the University's Career Centre, a panel discussion for students called "Skills of the Future", during which the panelists and representatives of chamber member-companies spoke about the current employment-related topics, skills and competencies that facilitate youth employment, as well as the global connection and impact of new technologies on jobs in the future.

FAVOURITE MARS SWEETS IN THE FUTURE IN ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING Mars, the company that is behind some of the world’s most beloved brands such as Snickers, Twix, M & M’s, Orbit, Dove, Pedigree and Whiskas, has announced that it will reduce the use of plastic by 25% by 2025, while their product packaging will be completely environmentally sustainable, recyclable and reusable. The concept whereby packaging never becomes waste consists of investing in circular manufacturing processes, reducing packaging and finding new solutions for product packaging. Preserving the freshness of food and products is critical to activities that create environmentally sustainable packaging, such as replacing hard-to-recycle plastics and removing materials like PVC, moving from plastic to

paper and exploring the possibilities of biodegradable and compostable packaging. The Sustainable in a Generation Plan focuses on three interconnected areas: a healthy planet, prosperity for people, and increased well-being. Climate change, poverty and scarcity of natural resources are the reasons for launching the initiative, which are the world’s biggest problems facing every society.



A Race to the Top of the World In the 1930s great-power rivalry played out in the Himalayas

In 1933, when Maurice Wilson decided to pilot a single-propeller aeroplane from London to the Himalayas, crash land on a 14,000-foot glacier and ascend to the summit of Mount Everest by himself, he did not reckon on the forbidding challenge of British bureaucracy. After flying more than 5,000 miles (8,050 kilometres), the amateur aviator and mountaineer was denied a permit to cross Nepali airspace and grounded in British India. Undeterred, Wilson secretly slipped across the border into Tibet on foot, disguised as a Buddhist monk. The last entry in his diary, found near his body 2,300 metres below Everest’s peak, reads: “Off again, gorgeous day.” Persistently optimistic—and perhaps completely mad—Wilson shared the determined idealism of the world’s best mountaineers. In his lively new book, “The World Beneath Their Feet”, Scott Ellsworth profiles the single-minded climbers who scaled the Himalayas’ tallest peaks in the 1930s. With war on the horizon, teams from Britain, the United States and Germany raced to plant their national flags on the “roof of the world”. By the 1930s high-altitude

IN 1953 TENZING AND SIR EDMUND HILLARY AND TENZING WAVED THE FLAG OF THE UNITED NATIONS: “I LIKE TO THINK THAT OUR VICTORY WAS NOT ONLY FOR OURSELVES”, HE REFLECTED, “BUT FOR ALL MEN EVERYWHERE” mountaineering had become as much a source of national prestige as space exploration would be in the 1960s. “We ought not to treat the climbing of Mount Everest as a domestic issue,” argued a piece in theLondon Morning Post in 1936. “It is an issue of National and Imperial importance.” In Berlin the Reichssportführer demanded the conquest of Nanga Parbat “for the glory of Germany”; Nazi officials wondered whether mountaineering missions could facilitate high-altitude aircraft tests over the Himalayas. The 23 expeditions undertaken between 1931 and 1939 invariably entailed extreme trials—among them perilous icefalls, pounding hail and fingers and toes lost to frostbite. The British Everest expedition of 1933 began with a 300mile walk from Darjeeling to Base Camp in Tibet, where one climber felt the cold “must be that of inter-

stellar space”. Not that these efforts were entirely without luxury. The failed French Himalayan expedition of 1936 was weighed down by eight tonnes of supplies, including 72 fillettes of champagne and “countless” tins of foie gras. Many of these adventures ended in tragedy. Seven climbers and nine porters were buried by an avalanche during a German expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1937; it was, at the time, the worst disaster in the history of mountaineering. But for those who succeeded, the payoff was astonishing. “The horizon surrounded us in one unbroken ring,” wrote the American climber Terris Moore in his diary after reaching the summit of Minya Konka, “and I fancied that I could see the curvature of the Earth.” Mr Ellsworth presents a gripping history, despite the occasional cliché (“Whether or not mad

dogs and Englishmen could stay out of the noonday sun was debatable. But Englishmen…simply couldn’t keep out of the hills”). He takes care to describe the experiences and contributions of Nepali sherpas—including a young man named Tenzing Norgay—who were hired to support expeditions. Even as European and American mountaineers relied on their expertise, they typically maintained strict divisions between sherpa and sahib. Sherpas were nearly always allocated inferior equipment and lodging. When war broke out in 1939, the mountaineers were forced to abandon the Himalayas for the front. But the race was merely on hold. In 1953, after seven failed attempts by British expeditions, Tenzing and Sir Edmund Hillary made the first successful climb to the summit of Everest. From the mountaintop, Tenzing waved the flag of the United Nations. “I like to think that our victory was not only for ourselves”, he reflected, “but for all men everywhere.” From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com




Belgrade is One of My Sweet Homes! A Japanese living in London, in love with Serbia AISA IJIRI

just been published in Germany by the Schott Music on 4th March 2020 in the Schott Series called ‘Simply Driven’.


And it does not end there. British female composer, Melanie Spanswick (official Schott Composer&Writer) wrote a piece dedicated to her, named “Sand, Silk and Love”. It draws an inspiration from a true love story behind pianist's name – Aisa meaning Love (Ai) and Silk (Sa) which love was found in the sea when her parents first met. The piece was published officially in January.

Melanie, MIA and you are all female artists. In the era of women empowerment and ahead of the International Women's Day, 8th of March, it is a splendid thing. what is the difference between the male and female energy in music, if there is any?

You seem to be very much connected to Serbia, although you are coming from Japan and living in London. How come? What particularly attracted you to Serbian music, a civilisation pretty different from your own?

— When I was 14 years old, I became a first Japanese student to be awarded a full scholarship at the Kungliga Musikhögskolan, where I met one of my closest friends, a pianist, Milica Sekulić. We were teenage girls who had a totally different backgrounds, cultures, languages and life style. But we both held one important thing in common- love for music and friendship! This story is going back to 20 years ago which is a scary fact, I then moved to London and she has moved to the USA. But we remained best friends wherever we have lived, and it was in 2013, I visited Belgrade for a first time to give a concert with Milica at the City Hall. Since then, a circle of my musician friends in Belgrade has expanded and my feelings and interests for Serbian culture has grown so much. You are preparing a concert dedicated to Serbian music in Tokyo in April. Can you give us some more details – it sounds astonishing!

— I had a wonderful concert with LP DUO from Belgrade at one of the prestigious concert halls in Tokyo on 4th November 2019, which was presented by the Serbia-Japan Society, and the Tokyo International Piano Association which I’m the Artistic Director of. To celebrate this special collaboration, the Serbian Embassy hosted a private


A CIRCLE OF MY MUSICIAN FRIENDS IN BELGRADE HAS EXPANDED AND MY FEELINGS AND INTERESTS FOR SERBIAN CULTURE HAS GROWN SO MUCH concert for me and LP DUO. Both events were fantastic success, we now have a very nice group of fans and friends who develop a precious friendship between Serbia and Japan. My upcoming concert in Tokyo will take place at the Serbian Embassy in Tokyo. I’ll perform a music by Serbian composer, Aleksandar Vujić as well as Chopin and Beethoven to celebrate their birth anniversaries. Tell us more about the AISA Sand, Silk and Love piece.

— AISA - Sand, Silk and Love was written and dedicated to me by British female composer Melanie Spanswick in August 2018. The meaning of the title, Sand, Silk and Love, necessitates a slow tempo with a feel for the sentiment behind these words. AISA is in the style of a power ballad; melodic, expressive and slightly sentimental. ‘AISA’ was first performed by myself in November 2018 as part of the Shiga Bank Festival in Japan, I have performed it recently on RTS TV show in Belgrade and it has

FUTURE PLANS What is the next endeavour you will plunge into, what the future brings? — Apart from my concerts and upcoming recordings, I’m working with my full dedication and commitment on two of my festival academies in Tokyo and historical spa town, Montecatini in Italy, offering an open platform for all musicians, students, children who are studying music to become a professional concert artist one day. And I’m hoping to bring my festival academy to Belgrade in the near future!

— I had to actually reflect and think of my response to this because I have never thought of the gender when I’m working with an artist. Every artist is very unique. I have worked in music and films with many European male artists; composers, writers, actors, theatre and film directors. And when I look back our working process, I could say male artists showed me a new view I have never thought of, we can bring a new inspiration to each other. Working with female artists is a beautiful gift too! E.g. they were caring in our working process, Melanie asked me for my personal thoughts as a performer while she was working and we have constantly listened to each other to make a harmony and create such a pleasant atmosphere as a team. It almost reminds me of having the only Lion King or a great team of lioness in our working field, if it makes sense? Both ways are wonderful in their own ways. You played in Belgrade in November 2017, in February 2020 and you are coming here again in October. You feel like home here, sort of?

— Definitely! I feel so home in Belgrade. Ever since I was a child, I have been travelling throughout Europe, the USA and Asia for concerts, festival or competitions. I got so used to learn a new languages, customs and cultures, make new friends and make a new home. So I have several cities in the word which I can call my home. Belgrade is one of them, and will always be. Home for me is not a place, city or country, home for me is the space I have people I love and feel connected with. And I’m so grateful to have my dear friends and colleagues in Belgrade who created me a sweet home!





Rijeka's Tito and Jovanka Mourn "The Seagull"

Mayor Obersnel as Jovanka Broz and Master Toni as Tito

The Governor's Palace, a building dating from the late 19th century which, until 1918, was the headquarters of the Hungarian governors who ruled Rijeka, was lit up in blue light and as we climbed a steep street from the seafront. We could already hear the music. The Humanitarian Ball of the 37th Carnival in Rijeka is being held in this building, which is today the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral. Town music orchestra is playing jazz and pop classics while masked guests are dancing on the floor. After a few minutes, I spot Vojko Obersnel, who’s been the mayor of “red” Rijeka for 20 years, and I recognize several ambassadors I met earlier at Diplomacy & Commerce receptions. Everyone is relaxed and exhilarated and my first impression is that we have crossed the border of the Balkans, that is the Balkans where water polo players are forced to jump into the sea

in Split to escape an angry mob, where the effigy of a gay couple with an adopted child is burned at the Imotski carnival, where tens of thousands of people are participating in ecclesiastical litanies across Montenegro, where people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are again in conflict over the borders 142 years since the departure of the Turks…

with whom she chatted last year at the City Hall" I realize that, in the atmosphere of a carnival (my "Phantom of the Opera" mask only covered half of my face), people only recognize themselves by their physiognomies. She goes on to say that “the gentleman from Montenegro” was very nice, so I was too, not to spoil the reputation of the

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING IS A GIFT FROM THE US AMBASSADOR – A MARDI GRASS BAND FROM NEW ORLEANS THAT EVOKED THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE MOST FAMOUS CARNIVAL IN NORTH AMERICA Rijeka also didn’t have it easy only 100 years ago which could be seen from the history of the palace where the dance is now taking place (see insert). An elderly lady in red crinoline asks me if I am "a gentleman from the Montenegrin embassy

Montenegrin diplomacy. The majorettes of Rijeka, who now wear luminous batons, pass by. Behind them are the representatives of Rijeka’s twin city, Kawasaki, dressed in traditional kimonos, sing traditional Japanese melodies. The highlight of

the evening is a gift from the US Ambassador – a Mardi Grass band from New Orleans that evoked the atmosphere of the most famous carnival in North America. Before we left, the Belfast Food Band, a slightly less intense version of our Orthodox Celts, perform lively Irish songs. As I observe the MAERSK ship from the terrace of the Adriatic Hotel later that evening, arriving from China and unloading its containers, I remembered what my friend Dejan Ljuština told me, who has just arrived from Venice with his wife and which carnival has never so poorly done. The reasons for this are allegedly the recent floods and also the coronavirus-induced hysteria that started spreading a few days earlier in Italy's northern provinces. Every year, Dejan attends the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which was cancelled a few days ago because of the coronavirus. 100,000 people cancelled their


Poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, ruler of Rijeka from 1919 to 1920

View from the balcony of the City Hall on the promenade

participation with Barcelona suffering damages in the amount of $ 500 million. Huawei offered a twoweek European quarantine for its participants, however, the fear was stronger. The globally connected civilization we live in gives birth to problems we never dreamed of when we were reading Pekić's book "Besnilo" (“Rabies”) in 1983, which took place at London's Heathrow. The atmosphere on Rijeka’s streets and docks is lively from early morning on Sunday 23rd. After a short stroll around town, while waiting for Sandra to arrive from late breakfast, I decide to adhere to Sartre's maxim: "If you're in town for a day, don’t rush around trying to see everything. You better sit in the best cafe and let the town pass in front of you". I ordered an espresso and mineral water and waited for the carnival parade to begin. Led by Mayor Obersnel and "Master Toni", the protector of the carnival to whom the mayor symbolically hands over the keys to the city. This year’s Carnival Queen is dressed in an art-deco costume from the early 1920s. Sandra arrives with the accred-

together, we shrug our shoulders when asked why Novi Sad was the only European Capital of Culture that has not sent its carnival troupe or even a delegation to Rijeka. Lithuanian ambassador, whose city Kaunas will be the European Capital of Culture (ECC) in 2022,

itations we received from the kind carnival organizers. We are going down the steps of Rijeka City Hall in the middle of the promenade from which balcony we will observe the carnival procession. I meet Miro Karlovac, the ambassador of Serbia to Croatia, and


Barricades in front of the Governor's Palace during Bloody Christmas in 1920

one year after Novi Sad, tells me about their preparations for this momentous event. I was in Kaunas two years ago. Their ECC offices are located in the city centre and have a huge window inviting citizens and tourists to come in and inquire about the EPC programmes and plans for 2022. Carnival groups are passing by us (each neighbourhood in Rijeka has its own group), many high schools have their own groups, as do villages in the vicinity of Rijeka, many towns in Istria and Dalmatia, guests from Germany, New Orleans, Lithuania and other countries that were or will be European capitals of culture. Guys and girls dressed as Tito's pioneers pass by in the defile, walking past the model of the Galeb ship (The Seagull), which renovation was supposed to be finished years ago. Reportedly, it will be over in 2021. Maybe they should send it via the Danube to us, in Novi Sad? A few minutes later - here they are - Tito and Jovanka. We recognize Toni, the festival master, dressed in a white Tito suit with a cigar in his hand and mayor Ober-

A KVARNER ADVENTURE BY AN ITALIAN POET In 1919 and 1920, the Governor's Palace was the residence of Gabriele D'Annunzio, one of Europe's most controversial figures in the first half of the 20th century. In 1919, the representatives of the Italian community living in Rijeka offered the Italian poet and soldier Gabriele D'Annunzio to conquer Rijeka and make it a part of the Kingdom of Italy. He agreed to this and subsequently organized hundreds of Italian legionnaires, the recently demobilized Arditi, members of the Italian special infantry, to attack and seize Rijeka. The double-headed eagle on the city tower was a symbol of Rijeka, but it reminded D'Annunzio’s soldiers too much of the hated Habsburgs. So, when they arrived in town, they first cut off one of the eagle's heads and replaced it with an Italian flag. The Governor's Palace became D'Annunzio’s residence, and he made numerous speeches from the Palace’s balcony. In these speeches, he referred to Rijeka as “a martyr town” (città olocausta, in Italian), or a victim of international politics that prevented the Italian people from uniting in one state. D'Annunzio was a mesmerizing orator. He is credited with reviving the


Roman military salute with a raised hand to which he added the cry "eia, eia, eia, alalà". He also revived other Roman symbols and placed them at the service of Italian nationalism and irredentism. On November 12, 1920, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the Kingdom of Italy signed the Treaty of Rapallo, but D'Annunzio rejected it, which led to the Italian Government wanted to expel D'Annunzio 's legionaries by force. On December 24, Christmas Day, Italian regular military forces attacked D'Annunzio's legionnaires on Kantrida. In order to protect themselves from the attack coming from Sušak, the legionnaires blew up the bridges on the Rječina River on Christmas Eve. The ship of the Kingdom of Italy, called The Andrea Doria, fired several missiles towards the Governor's Palace, wounding D'Annunzio. The killing of the Italian soldiers lasted for 5 days. 22 Arditi, 18 Italian regular soldiers and 5 civilians were killed in the process. This event made history under the term "Natale di Sangue" (Bloody Christmas). D'Annunzio's legionnaires began their retreat from Rijeka on January 5, 1921, and the poet-soldier himself left the city by plane 13 days later.


Halubajski Zvončari driving evil spirits away at the end of the Carnival

snel with a high bun, dressed as Jovanka Broz in a long polka dot blue dress. I am trying to imagine another mayor in the region, on the other side of an imaginary line separating the Balkans from Europe, dressed like this. Albeit unsuccessfully... The carnival hosts are constantly teasing the mayor, as well as other absent Croatian politicians. Ahead of the queue is a huge effigy of Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, and behind are people in circus costumes followed by a truck bearing a banner that says: "Everything is starting to resemble a circus, but everything is less and less funny.” While we were heading for lunch, at the Nebuloza tavern, on the banks of the river Riječina, we meet trumpeters from Guča, playing first "Bella Ciao" and then "Djurdjevdan". Another proof of Rijeka's multiculturalism and tolerance...


LaGuardia during his diplomatic service in Rijeka

The crowd gathers on the terrace. Antonio from Lošinj is standing next to me. His face is painted black. I tell him that I hope he does not plan to become the Prime Minister of Canada someday because the black face would work against him. We laugh. Political correctness has not yet fully reached the Dalmatian islands. The crescendo of the festival comes just after eight o'clock in the evening, when Halubajski Ovčari descend on the promenade with the deafening noise of the bells, dressed in sheepskin with pagan masks which, back in the pre-Christian times, were supposed to drive evil spirits away. Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture 2020, seems to have driven the evil spirits of right-wing, nationalism and xenophobia out of their city a long time ago, so this time the "bell-ringers" (zvončari) did not have too much to do.

HOW THE FAMOUS NEW YORK MAYOR, FIORELLO LAGUARDIA SPENT DAYS IN RIJEKA There is a signboard on the promenade which says that the American consul and later the mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia lived and worked in Rijeka from 1904 to 1906. During his tenure, he advocated a more organized departure and better treatment of the numerous emigrants who left the port of Rijeka for the US. LaGuardia was also the name of one of the most important streets in the heart of Rijeka for many years. LaGuardia became a member of the Republican Party, joined Congress and was elected Mayor of New York three consecutive times, from 1933 to 1945. Fiorello Henry LaGuardia was born on December 11, 1882, in the Bronx, New York, to a family of immigrants, an Italian father and a Jewish mother from Istria. For three consecutive mayoral terms in New York, LaGuardia has led the war on corruption and organized crime, as well as successfully pulled

the city out of the financial depression that plagued the United States in the 1930s. One of his first moves was to arrest Lucky Luciano. LaGuardia was also known as the friend of the poor and disenfranchised, a mayor who transformed the Big Apple into a modern cosmopolitan city, which earned him the nickname "The Father of New York". LaGuardia is also the name of one of New York's famous airports, as well as a high school. In Rijeka, Fiorello lived in a very modest two-bedroom consular apartment on the promenade, in the house of the Vuković-Jurman family. At the time, he was the only official American representative in Rijeka. In addition to issuing official certificates, his main duty was to supervise the expatriates who departed for New York every two weeks. He was cordial, open and spontaneous in contact with other people, which made him quite popular with Rijeka’s diplomats. His nickname was "Little Flower", an English translation of his first name. A Broadway musical about his life, called "Fiorello!”, was also made.



Concert hall




Due to the ban on public gatherings indoors and additional precautions due to the spread of the new COVID-19 virus crown proclaimed by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Belgrade Philharmonic is cancelling performances in the coming period. There will be no orchestra concerts scheduled for March 12 and 13 at Kolarac with conductor Marcus Bosch and cellist Kian Soltani, as well as performances for school-age children, scheduled March 18-27. All information regarding cancelled concerts will be announced later.


MAR 20:00

Felix Mildenberger


Grand Hall of the Kolarac Foundation

Conductor: Felix Mildenberger Soloists: Ognjen Popović, clarinet Nenad Janković, bassoon

Versatile, insightful and highly musical – these are just some of the characteristics that distinguish Felix Mildenberger as a conductor. Orchestras appreciate his deep focus in dealing with music and his great musicality, combined with his gentle character. Since winning the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition in 2018, Felix Mildenberger has been the London Symphony Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor and therefore he works on a regular basis with Sir Simon Rattle, François Xavier Roth, Gianandrea Noseda and others, and conducts concerts himself.


MAR 20:00

#DRAMAQUEENBEETHOVEN 3 Grand Hall of the Kolarac Foundation

Conductor: Marcus Bosch Soloist: Kian Soltani, violoncello Marcus Bosch

Marcus Bosch is one of the most prominent figures in the German conducting scene – and a much-sought-after guest conductor across the world. This German artist of Brazilian-Italian descent decided early on to embark on the kapellmeister career path followed by many conductors in Germany: after positions at the state theatres in Wiesbaden and Saarbrücken and with the Staatsorchester Halle, he was general music director (GMD) of the City of Aachen from 2002 to 2012 and at the Staatstheater and Staatsphilharmonie in Nuremberg from 2011 to 2018. His operatic repertoire now includes more than 90 works of music theatre, among them large-scale projects such as Wagner’s Ring cycle and Berlioz’s Les Troyens.


MAR 10:00


Sunday, 1st at 11.00 Concert Hall


Conductor: Jovan Bogosavljević Aleksa Aćimović, violin Nadja Staničić, doublebass Vladimir Aćimović, piano Programme: Vivaldi, Bach, Kussewitzky, Chopin Production: Music Centre Admission free

Wednesday, 4th at 18.00 Music Gallery


Master Art Virtuosos Production: Music Centre Admission free

Thursday, 5th at 20.00 Concert Hall


Friday, 6th at 20.00 Concert Hall Conductor: Felix Mildenberger Ognjen Popović, clarinet Nenad Janković, bassoon Programme: A. Sokolović, K. Stamitz, J. Brahms Production: Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra More information 011.2630744 Sunday, 7th at 20.00 Concert Hall


Sunday, 8th at 11.00 Concert Hall


Ljubica Damčević, violin Jelena Adamović, violin Dušica Luković, accordion Katarina Kamber, double bass Sonja Lukić, piano Guests: Aleksandar Simić, composer, Janis Kalabakis, guitar, Jelena Minić & Aleksandar Petrović, Dance School Tango Natural Production: Music Centre Admission free Sunday, 8th at 20.00 Concert Hall




RTS Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Bojan Sudjić Production: RTS Music Production

Wednesday, 11th at 18.00 Music Gallery




Mina Mendelson, violin Dejan Mitrović, cello Marija Đukić, piano Programme: Brahms, Rachmaninoff Admission free

Sunday, 15th at 20.00 Concert Hall


Admission free

Production: Music Centre Admission free

Monday, 16th at 20.00 Concert Hall

Wednesday, 11th at 20.00 Concert Hall


Admission free

Thursday, 12th at 20.00 Concert Hall



Nemanja Radulović, violin Laure Favre-Kahn, piano Producton: Music Centre 2.500, 2.200, 1.800

Wednesday, 18th at 18.00 Music Gallery


Conductor: Marcus Bosch Kian Soltani, violoncello Programme: Beethoven, Schumann Production: Belgrade Philharmonic More information 011.2630744

Production: Music Centre Admission free

Friday, 13th at 17.00 Music Gallery


Nemanja Radulović, violin Laure Favre-Kahn, piano Producton: Music Centre 2.500, 2.200, 1.800

Friday, 13th at 20.00 Concert Hall

Friday, 20th at 20.00 Concert Hall

Admission free


Saturday, 14th at 20.00 Concert Hall

Conductor: Bojan Sudjić Rafael Aguirre, David Martinez Production: Guitar Art Festival 1200 Sunday, 15th at 11.00 Concert



Conductor: Marcus Bosch Kian Soltani, violoncello Programme: Beethoven, Schumann Production: Belgrade Philharmonic More information 011.2630744


Thursday, 19th at 20.00 Concert Hall

Milica Ilić, music Jovan Stamatović Karić, libreto Bojana Radivojević, conductor Patrik Lazić, director Production: Operosa from 21st to 30th March/ Concert Hall


Tuesday, 31st at 20.00 Concert Hall


Admission free





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Diplomacy and Commerce No. 49  

Diplomacy and Commerce No. 49  

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