GREECE & SERBIA
TRADITIONALLY IMPORTANT PARTNER GORAN TRIVAN
Minister of Environmental Protection
Director of the Central Union of the Chambers of the Greece
Chairman of HBAâ€™s Managing Board
Greece is one of the sunniest countries in the world. There are normally more than 250 sunny days in the year.
Be prepared to down some olive oil. Greece produces 300,000 tons of olive oil per year. And average yearly consumption per citizen is 20kg.
There are more than 10,000 traditional Greek dances coming from the different regions of Greece.
The turquoise blue of many Greek roofs, doors, and church domes â€“ especially on the Cyclades Islands â€“ is believed to keep evil spirits away.
THE OLDEST CITIES Capital city Athens has been standing for 7,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe.
No matter where you are in Greece, youâ€™ll never be further than 140 km from the coast. The country boasts 9,000 miles of coastline and 2,000 islands.
Greek food is just generally awesome. Lots of grilling, baking and slow roasting. The famous Moussaka, a tomato based lamb dish has been made famous the world over.
Greece was home to the original Olympic Games which began around 700 BC.
VALUABLE SUPPORT GORAN TRIVAN
Minister of Environmental Protection
Greece is an important partner to Serbia in environmental protection, because we live in a common region, and share both the problems and a vision for the future
his year, Serbia and Greece signed a memorandum of cooperation on environmental protection. We talked with the Minister of Environment Goran Trivan what this means for our bilateral relations, as well as about many other issues. â€œThe centuries-old friendship of the Serbian and Greek people, historical and cultural ties, and the strongest bilateral relations so far, are all the basis of our countries' cooperation in environmental protection. Greece is an important partner to Serbia in environmental protection, because we live in a common region, and share both the problems and a vision for the future. The two countries signing
the Memorandum of Understanding in the segment of environmental protection was preceded by important bilateral and regional meetings. Our first visit, after the inception of the Ministry of Environment Protection, was in Greece, when we agreed to boost our cooperation in environmental protection. Following Greece and 20 other countries of South and Southeastern Europe participating in the Ministerial Conference, which we organized late last year in Belgrade, we promoted a new format for this region's cooperation in environmental protection. Our cooperation was also demonstrated at the United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi, when Greece support-
ed and voted in favour of the proposal for Serbia to assume the position of the Vice-President of the United Nations Environment Assembly - UNEA 5. This highest level of environment-related decision-making in the world has created an opportunity for all countries to connect in fighting for the life and future of humanity and all living beings on the planet, and for Serbia and the region to contribute directly by participating in the best global environmental decisions. My colleague and friend, Minister Socrates Famellos’ visit to Serbia in March this year, who led a Greek government and business delegation, was very significant and useful. The two countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding relating to environmental protection and encouraged business people who attended the Serbia-Greece Economic Forum to cooperate in this field. We also agreed to jointly participate in regional, European and global initiatives and to cooperate in the areas such as the circular green economy, wastewater treatment, solid waste management and special waste streams, and in protecting biodiversity and natural resources. Furthermore, we agreed to exchange good practices and innovative solutions, have experts go on study visits, promote technical and scientific cooperation and launch initiatives for various joint projects. At these meetings, which will become regular, we are going to discuss proposals for concrete joint actions and projects, and at the same time, summarize the accomplished results”, says Minister Trivan at the beginning of the interview. What can Serbia learn from Greece?
In trying to reach the highest European and global environmental standards, it is important for Serbia to skip years of delays and adequately respond to the most urgent environmental pollution issues by applying the best practices and technical and technological solutions. Addressing wastewater and waste management issues and investing in infrastructure projects like construc-
GREECE'S EXPERIENCE IS VALUABLE FOR SERBIA, WHICH IS WORKING HARD ON PREPARING TO FORMALLY SUBMIT ITS NEGOTIATING POSITIONS REGARDING CHAPTER 27 - ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE tion of sewage treatment plants with sludge lines are a priority. These are important and significant national projects. In preparation of the investment cycle in this segment, hundreds of millions of dinars were allocated to local governments for the rehabilitation and closure of non-sanitary landfills, preparation of technical documentation and preparation for the implementation of investment projects. This was a huge undertaking. As a result, we now have 13 projects ready to be implemented, and there will be 32 more next year.
Our first goal is to build 359 sewage treatment systems with a sludge line. It costs about five billion euros. We need about 2 billion to build 26 regional waste management centres. IN terms of big projects, I see the solution in a public-private partnership. I hope that Greek companies will be involved in these activities, in addition to the domestic ones. Greece has the experience, potential and knowledge in this area and they are willing to generously share them with us. Serbia values the significant support that Greece can provide through cooperation in the implementation of projects relating to the construction of wastewater treatment plants and the treatment of waste sludge. We know that Greece has developed and implemented certain solutions in this area that can be of great help to Serbia. The partnership and engagement of professional institutions in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources through the development of eco-innovation, eco-design, advanced technologies, energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources and development of green projects, will be mutually beneficial for improving the environment in the two countries. Greece can be an important partner to us and the driving force behind us obtaining international financial support for the implementation of projects. As an EU member, how much can Greek support and experience help us? It is of great importance for Serbia to develop cooperation with Greece in the field of environmental protection, as Greece is one of the most important EU Member States for us and possesses excellent knowledge of the opportunities in
GREECE CAN BE AN IMPORTANT PARTNER TO US AND THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND US OBTAINING INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS GREECE 2019
the region. Greece's experience is valuable for Serbia, which is working hard on preparing to formally submit its negotiating positions regarding Chapter 27 - Environment and Climate Change. Sharing experiences and developing cooperation is of particular importance for Serbia. We need to get acquainted with the positive experiences, but also the challenges and problems that Greece has been facing in environmental protection, earlier, during the accession negotiations phase, and now, as a full-fledged member of the European Union. We believe that, by utilizing valuable knowledge and lessons learned from Greece’s experience, we will ensure that Serbia has an easier path in the process of European integration and in meeting the European environmental standards. Representatives of 20 Greek companies from the environmental segment visited Belgrade and had meetings with their peers from Serbia. How did those meetings go? The aim of the Serbia-Greece Business Forum, held under the auspices of Greece's state and business who came to Serbia, was to support investments in environmental protection. This was also a good business opportunity for the
Greek business delegation to meet with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and companies interested in cooperating on the preparation and implementation of capital infrastructure projects in waste and wastewater management and developing recycling, engineering and design projects. The meeting
Greece's principled position in respecting and safeguarding Serbia's territorial integrity and the status of Kosovo and Metohija based on international law. We are grateful to Greece for the support and its stance regarding Serbia in terms of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as for its firm and friendly attitude based on international law.
GREECE HAS THE EXPERIENCE, POTENTIAL AND KNOWLEDGE IN THIS AREA AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GENEROUSLY SHARE THEM WITH US
How can Serbia cooperate with Greece even more? We live in a time of climate change and see the dramatic consequences it causes, we must bear in mind that, according to experts, this region, in which Serbia and Greece are located, will be the worst affected by the effects of extreme weather. There is no doubt that our cooperation will have to go a long way in this direction, as we, together with our Greek friends, are aware that the effects of climate change will impact all aspects of our lives and the future of generations to come. In particular, we will be facing water shortages, food shortages, natural disasters - torrents, droughts, fires - and related to this, a large influx of climate migrants and profound social changes in the region. We will stick together, facing an uncertain future together, as friends do.
of over 60 representatives of Serbian and Greek companies, which operate in the environmental protection segment, was an excellent opportunity not only to develop economic cooperation but also to think about joint projects that can be implemented in regional and European framework. You underlined the importance of
INTERV IE W
SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGES FOR INVESTMENT CONSTANTINE MICHALOS
Executive Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Director of the Central Union of the Chambers of the Greece
I believe that the improvement of the climate in the Greek economy will pave the way for the further increase of investment inflows to the Balkans in the near future onstantine Michalos has been the Executive Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2006. He is also the Director of the Central Union of the Chambers of the Greec, the Vice President of Eurochambres, and President and CEO. of the shipping company SWAN SA. He is a leading contributor to the reform in the economy and the work of producers and entrepreneurs.
How would you rate the overall economic situation in Greece and how much have the austerity measures helped or hindered economic recovery? It is a fact that, following a huge effort, Greece has managed to restore its fiscal balance and redress major structural problems. Despite the inevitable impact this effort had on growth, the recent signs regarding the course of the Greek economy are rather encouraging. Within 2019 we have seen a drastic reduction of Greek government bond yields that reflects an increase in market confi-
dence, as well as the complete lifting of capital controls. Moreover, major steps are being made since this summer for adopting a fiscal policy mix that is more growth-friendly. The draft budget for 2020 encompassed a series of important relief measures for businesses, such as the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 28% to 24%, the reduction of the dividend
WITHIN 2019 WE HAVE SEEN A DRASTIC REDUCTION OF GREEK GOVERNMENT BOND YIELDS THAT REFLECTS AN INCREASE IN MARKET CONFIDENCE, AS WELL AS THE COMPLETE LIFTING OF CAPITAL CONTROLS
rate from 10% to 5%, as well as measures designed to support key sectors of the economy, such as construction, the most important being the suspension of VAT on all building permits issued since 2006. A positive impact on entrepreneurship and growth is also expected from the enactment of a new Development Law, which contains provisions that upgrade the investment and business environment, tackling existing obstacles and providing new incentives and facilities. All these developments have significantly improved market sentiment and create better conditions for achieving the greater goal, which is to boost growth and restore the citizens’ living standards. Based on you experience, how do you see the current economic situation in the EU, the ramifications of Brexit, and the consequences for the Greek economy? Recently, not only the European, but also the global economy, are faced with the consequences of rising uncertainty.
The international trade system is tested by the accumulation of the effects from the tariff war between the US and China and other major trading partners, resulting in the continuous slowdown of the global economy. As regards the eurozone in particular, in the past few months we have seen the downward revision of growth forecasts for 2020, owing to trade tensions and the problems arising in major manufacturing sectors, as well as to the persistent uncertainty regarding Brexit and the conditions that will prevail immediately after its occurrence. Brexit is also a matter of concern for Greece, given the strong, heretofore, commercial bonds between the two countries. The volume of bilateral trade in goods volume is currently close to 2.3 billion euros, with Greek exports amounting to 1.2 billion euros in 2018. Therefore, the commercial policy chosen by the United Kingdom following its exit from the EU is crucial for the future trade relations between the two countries. In addition, a possible strengthening of the euro against the pound could hurt the competitiveness of Greek exports of goods and services to the UK. How much did this situation impact on Greek companies in terms of their decisions to invest abroad, and especially in the Balkans? Despite the ten-year crisis, Greece continues to be a major investor in the Balkans. Greek enterprises continue to realise or plan major investments in Balkan countries and are key players in these economies, actively contributing to growth and employment. In Serbia, in particular, total Greek investment stood
at 1.5 billion euros in 2018, with almost 150 businesses operating in the country, in sectors such as construction, food and beverages, retail trade, telecommunications and information technology, hotel services, etc. I believe that the improvement of the climate in the Greek economy will pave the way for the further increase of investment inflows to the Balkans in the near future. How would you rate overall trade relations between Greece and Serbia?
I BELIEVE THERE IS ROOM FOR THE FURTHER DEEPENING AND EXPANSION OF ECONOMIC RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND SERBIA Trade relations between Greece and Serbia are already very good. In 2018, bilateral trade volumes stood at a record high, almost reaching 500 million euros. Serbian exports to our country amounted to 178 million euros, the most important being industrial products, food, chemicals, machinery, paper, etc. Correspondingly, Greek exports to Serbia stood at 306 million euros, increased by 7% yearon-year. The most important exports to Serbia are industrial products, food and live animals, chemicals, machinery, minerals, and lubricants. Tourist relations are equally good, as Greece was visited by 1.2 Serbian tourists last year.
Which segments of economic cooperation could be further improved? I believe there is room for the further deepening and expansion of economic relations between Greece and Serbia. As regards investment, Serbia has major opportunities to show in sectors such as energy and, in particular, RES, agriculture, chemicals and fertilisers, irrigation systems, mineral ores, as well as construction. There is also potential for new, mutually beneficial trade partnerships in the food sector –especially in regard to products such as olives and olive oil, herbs and spices, bakery and confectionery products, fish, fruit and vegetables– as well as in the construction materials sector, in pharmaceuticals, technology products, as well as electrical and professional equipment. How satisfied are Greek companies already operating in Serbia when it comes to the business climate and opportunities for expansion here? Serbia is a country that offers significant advantages for investment, such as strong growth, the existence of a competent skilled workforce, a favourable tax regime, low currency risk, and a beneficial investment framework. This is why it has been an attractive destination for Greek enterprises. That said, there are also difficulties, mostly having to do with red tape and delays in the issuance of permits, as well as frequent changes in the legislation. It is my understanding that all these issues are at the core of the relevant reform effort in Serbia, as they are in Greece. In any case, the overall picture and experience is positive, and conducive to the further strengthening of business partnerships in the future.
SERBIA HAS MAJOR OPPORTUNITIES TO SHOW IN SECTORS SUCH AS ENERGY AND, IN PARTICULAR, RES, AGRICULTURE, CHEMICALS AND FERTILISERS, IRRIGATION SYSTEMS, MINERAL ORES, AS WELL AS CONSTRUCTION GREECE 2019
Now is the Time to Buy
PROPERTY IN GREECE Grekodom Development helps its customers from the very first step, of the property viewings and selection, to the property acquisition
NIKOLA NEDELJKOVIĆ Director at Grekodom - Representative office Serbia
rekodom Development Company is one of the leading real estate companies, dealing with the sale, management and construction of real estate in Greece and Cyprus. With 13 years of experience, Grekodom knows the situation and the market very well, and every year helps thousands of clients with buying or selling real estate. Our company is part of one of the largest holdings in Greece - the Mouzenidis Group - which also comprises companies like Mouzenidis Travel, Ellinair Airlines, Bomo Hotels, MBG Consulting Services and many others. Our database currently contains more than 40,000 properties in Greece and Cyprus, which allows us to maintain a competitive advantage over other companies in
terms of variety and quantity of properties to choose from,” says Nikola Nedeljković, Director at Grekodom Development - Representative Office Serbia.
Current property prices in Greece are relatively low compared to those in other European countries, making Greece a very attractive destination for capital investments. What would be your advice to someone who wants to buy a property in Greece? — We have two tips for people interested
We opened a representative office in Belgrade to provide potential clients from Serbia with all the necessary information and to promote our services
in buying property in Greece. The first is to consult the experts, who will assist the buyer in their selection and throughout the sale or purchase. Buying property in this stress-free way will save you time and money, which is very important nowadays. The second tip is to hurry up, given the fact that prices are inevitably rising year-on-year, and that this trend will continue.
What are the forecasts in terms of real estate prices in Greece in the future? — The real estate market in Greece has been growing signifcantly relative to previous years. More stable prices slowly but surely are leading to an overall improvement in the market. The price decline was not as noticeable on the islands and in popular tourist destinations as in the rest of Greece, but still, it was felt. We are talking about a decline of about 15-20% over the last few years. Nonetheless, the situation is now reversing with the property prices projected to reach the pre-crisis level in 2020.
Which parts of Greece and which locations are the most popular real estate-wise? — It all depends on the potential customer, and sometimes even the country that the customer comes from. The Serbs are mostly interested in the northern part of Greece, mainly because of its proximity to Serbia, and they usually invest in Chalkidiki, Thessaloniki, the Olympic Region, Kavala and Asprovalta. In general, the most popular places to invest are islands (especially Crete, Corfu and Rhodes) and of course, big cities such as Thessaloniki and Athens. What basic costs can a buyer from Serbia expect to cover when buying a property in Greece? — The costs of buying a property are generally lower in Greece than in other European Union countries. They include the following: the Tax on Transfer of Absolute Rights (3.09%), cadastre registration fee (0.5%), attorney and notary costs (1.5% + VAT - for each) and real estate agency fee (2% + VAT). How can you, as a company, help buyers from Serbia? — We opened a representative office in Belgrade to provide potential clients from Serbia with all the necessary information and to promote our services. Our company is organized in such a way that we provide our clients with all kinds of real estate services. Grekodom Development helps its customers from the very first step, of the property viewings and selection, to the
property acquisition. Although this is the point where many other real estate agency would stop providing their services, we have decided to oﬀer our clients post-purchase service as well, such as taking care of the bills, real estate maintenance, renovation and construction services, and many other services that will substantially help clients to maintain their property abroad.
The real estate market in Greece has been growing significantly relative to previous years How long does it take to complete the purchase process and obtain a document confirming ownership of the property? — The procedure usually takes between a month and a month and a half. Sometimes the procedure can be completed in a shorter period, but this depends on the owner of the property and on whether they have all the necessary documentation prepared and all the relevant obligations fulflled before the contract is signed. Can you tell us more about the Greek Golden Visa programme? — Golden Visa is quite an interesting programme because currently, this is one of the simplest ways of acquiring a residence permit to live in an EU country. By buying a property that is worth of €250,000 or
more, the buyer automatically gains the right to apply for a residence permit. Their spouse, children under the age of 21 and parents are also eligible to apply for this visa. The visa is issued for 5 years and renewed after that period without any problems, as long as you still own the property that meets the above conditions. There is also the option of buying a car with Greek number plates, various types of vessels such as speedboats or yachts, as well as free schooling for children.
What are your company's plans for the future? — Our company has been growing year-onyear, and we have big plans for the coming period, both in the segment of real estate sales and construction. Our company is actively involved in one of the largest projects in the northern part of Greece - the Kriaritsi Project, in Sithonia. We can also announce another project, implemented in the village of Nikiti, called Bomo Apartments, which our company is realizing together with several other partners. The project consists of three wings, with a total of 38 apartments of different sizes and lay-out. The Bomo Nikiti Apartments will also have a children's playground, swimming pool and relaxation area. Furthermore, we have completed several development projects in Athens and Thessaloniki that entailed renovating old buildings and transforming them into new and modern spaces that can provide a stable income to new owners. We plan to continue implementing this type of projects in the future too.
I NT ER VI EW
TRADITIONALLY IMPORTANT PARTNER ZAFEIRIOS LAMPADARIDIS Chairman of HBAâ€™s Managing Board
The expected growth of the Greek economy in the coming years will lead to even greater interest in the Serbian market, and our Association will contribute by organizing business missions, providing information and facilitating the exchange of information
reek and Serbian companies are stepping up cooperation. According to the 2018 data, the total external trade in goods with Greece amounted to almost EUR 500 million. We talked about the further perspective of the development of our relations with Mr. Zafeirios Lampadaridis, Chairman of the Managing Board of the Hellenic Business Association.
How would you rate the current state of the economic ties between our two countries? ď€ś The bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia are based on strong friendship, time-tested closeness and solidarity between the two nations, going beyond politics of any kind. In the past years, it has been demonstrated that, while Greece is still struggling with internal economic imbalances, its companies have managed to maintain their strong, stable and distinctive presence in the Serbian market. Fortunately, the withdrawal of Greek banks in previous years had no negative impact on the status
of the economic relations between the two countries. The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia brings together companies from the banking, construction, hospitality, heavy industry and telecom-
WE ARE VERY PLEASED THAT THE GREEK-SERBIAN BUSINESS FORUM IN THESSALONIKI HAS BECOME A TRADITIONAL BUSINESS EVENT
munications sectors, but according to the latest economic trends, that number will continue to grow, and an increasing number of Greek firms we expect to join us come from sectors such as energy and renewable energy sources, transport, telecommunications and real-estate, which promises to further develop the links between the two countries. HBA, as a non-governmental organization, firmly believes that new, constructive and mutually beneficial business partnerships can be built through networking and providing appropriate support. In particular, it insisted on organizing activities mainly with the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade, the ultimate goal of which was to connect businesspeople
and seek new opportunities for economic cooperation. Although bilateral economic dynamics between Greece and Serbia do not yet reflect the potential that can be developed, certainly in 2019, the conditions for strengthening and expanding relations are more favourable. Our countries share several competitive advantages arising from their geographical location, high-quality human resources and active business communities that systematically encourage their extroverted orientation. Besides, the steady flow of Serbia's EU accession negotiations is also a factor in boosting the economic cooperation between the two countries.
munications. Greece's strong presence in Serbia is forged by more than 200 Greek companies that operate in the Serbian market and cover sectors such as food and beverage, finance, construction, telecommunications and information technology. Based on the relevant estimates, these companies currently employ about 20,000 people. However, as we expect to bolster bilateral economic and econom-
OUR BUSINESS PRACTICE HAS PROVEN THAT ANY FOREIGN BUSINESS DECIDING TO ESTABLISH OPERATIONS OR CONDUCT INVESTMENTS IN SERBIA ENCOUNTERS A RELIABLE AND DYNAMIC COUNTRY
Greek-owned companies in Serbia are involved in various business segments, from banking and real estate to construction and heavy industry, and have implemented huge investments. In which segments can our two countries cooperate even more? How many Greek companies currently do business in Serbia, and how many people do they employ? Greece traditionally represents an important economic and business partner of Serbia, as seen in important Greek investments in Serbia over the past decades. Today, HBA is making effort to maintain or even increase the level of investments in both countries. For that, through various activities - mainly B2B meetings - it provides the opportunities for both sides to discuss potential new partnerships, technologies and services, business and trade cooperation, etc. The areas that generated the greatest interest in Serbia are energy and renewable energy, agriculture, real estate/tourism development and information technology and telecom-
ic cooperation in areas such as tourism, energy, transport, waste management, recycling, wastewater treatment, information and communication technologies, pharmaceuticals, irrigation systems and shipbuilding, we are confident that both figures will grow significantly yearon-year, thus making Greece one of the biggest investors in the country. How important is the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia (HBA) for bolstering the business connections between the two countries? The Hellenic Business Association has had a steady and uninterrupted presence
in the country for more than 15 years. That alone is an undeniable fact of the importance that HBA has in terms of fostering business connections between Greece and Serbia. HBA has succeeded in presenting its members in front of the key stakeholders in both countries by maintaining a strong profile consisting of business developments and result-driven actions. In this respect, our members principally expect that, while doing business in Serbia, they should receive full support in communicating with Serbian and Greek institutions and protection of their interests. The Greek-Serbian Business Forum was held in Thessaloniki, in March. This has become a traditional event for business people from Serbia and Greece to meet and discuss the opportunities for further cooperation. How often do Greek and Serbian business people turn to you for advice about reaching the Serbian market and how do you present Serbia as an investment destination? I should point out that we are very pleased that the Greek-Serbian Business Forum in Thessaloniki has become a traditional business event, which constantly creates opportunities for synergies in sectors like food, energy, ICT, tourism, real estate and pharmaceuticals. So far, both sides have shown great interest and certain joint projects are already being implemented. However, there is still plenty of room to develop bilateral economic cooperation not only in terms of the trade flow but also through ventures/investments in Greece, in Serbia and the Balkan region. Our business practice has proven that any foreign busi-
BALKAN COUNTRIES, AND ESPECIALLY SERBIA, CONTINUE TO BE MARKETS WITH GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AND POSITIVE BUSINESS PROSPECTS FOR GREEK BUSINESSES GREECE 2019
ness deciding to establish operations or conduct investments in Serbia encounters a reliable and dynamic country that affords them a much greater opportunity than they initially perceived. In this regard, every Greek business person who contacts the HBA and expresses interest in doing business with Serbia is told that, although Serbia has to resolve issues that hinder entrepreneurship, several factors make the country’s market attractive. Steady growth, the continuous creation of employment opportunities and relatively low inflation help reduce poverty, meaning that a market of 7 million residents is becoming increasingly important as potential customers. How important are the transport links between the port of Piraeus, Belgrade and Budapest for the cooperation? In terms of financial integration, COSCO Piraeus represents a consensus that the project is in line with the fundamental interests of China, Greece and the region. As an important member state of the 17+1 cooperative mechanism, Serbia has received quite a few very valuable foreign direct investments from China in recent years as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). To create a more favourable business environment, the development of the Piraeus port promises to lead to the economic prosperity of the entire region. In addition to Greece's financial recovery, it will also
HELLENIC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION HAS HAD A STEADY AND UNINTERRUPTED PRESENCE IN THE COUNTRY FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS affect Greek business in Serbia, as COSCO Piraeus reduces the cost of time, energy and capital for the flow of goods between China/Asia and Europe for both the region and Serbia. So far, the Budapest-Belgrade railway has to be the hallmark infrastructure project in the region. This major infrastructure project is significant not just for the economic integration of Serbia and Hungary, or the two countries' further integration into the European market, but also equally important, it is a segment of a strategic land-sea transport corridor that connects China and the heart of the Central and Eastern European region. The project could serve as a milestone in region's efforts to attract foreign investments and Piraeus has become a showcase display of the BRI in action - a project capable of transforming not just one port but perhaps an entire economy. How satisfied are Greek companies in
Serbia with the business climate and opportunities for expansion? Balkan countries, and especially Serbia, continue to be markets with great opportunities and positive business prospects for Greek businesses. Our companies operating on the Serbian market are very satisfied with the overall business climate, as the country has already come a long way in adopting measures to stabilize public finances and create a business-friendly environment. During the last few years, consistent application of the ambitious structural reforms programme has considerably improved the business and investment climate and has boosted economic activity. The state has improved the business climate and worked on the conditions related to fast incorporation and a favourable tax regime for foreign investors. The remaining challenges that Greek companies face, which need to be addressed in order to further promote trade and investments, relate to modernizing the business-related legal framework by reducing red tape, as well as harmonizing trade regulations in order to reduce the administrative costs that are still charged for certain goods, as well as to eliminate technical barriers to trade. Nonetheless, Serbia is as one of the few countries from the South-Eastern part of Europe where companies from abroad found the proper place for development and stability. How do you see the relationship between the two countries developing further? One of HBA’s goals is to foster business cooperation between our countries. We are confident that, by promoting synergies between Greek and Serbian companies through particular networking events, bilateral economic cooperation will be further strengthened. Undeniably, the expected growth of the Greek economy in the coming years will lead to even greater interest in the Serbian market, and our association will contribute by organizing business missions, providing information and facilitating the exchange of information. Also, the recent establishment of the High-Level Economic Cooperation Council between the two countries will lead to a significant improvement of the bilateral business cooperation in specific areas.
Hotel which is connected with
THE HISTORY OF THE CITY together the hotel’s challenges and how we can improve on them, having considered the evolution of the local market with the relevant threats and opportunities it may present. Team, procedures, property, market, and financial situation are the key aspects on which I will focus on to be able to achieve the financial results and the guest satisfaction that the owning Company is seeking. There is a thorough plan based on the above principles which I am looking forward to putting in place upon my arrival.
I come from a very strong background in selling and organising congresses and large meetings and events and am looking forward to working closely with the Sales & Marketing and Operations Teams of Metropol Palace to connect the historic hotel soon with more success stories
YANNIS PETRAKIS General Manager of Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel
etropol Palace is one of the most famous and most luxurious hotels in Belgrade. Yannis Petrakis is coming a new General Manager of Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel. He talks about future plans, history and congress tourism.
You are almost in the position of General Manager. What are your plans? — I am proud and excited to take over the position of General Manager of Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, a hotel which is connected with the history of the city. As you may imagine my priority is to integrate with the local people and the culture of the city and the country. Furthermore, meet my Team at the Hotel and get to know them before we start analysing
Metropol Palace, the most famous hotel of the former Yugoslavia, was reconstructed seven years ago. How satisfied are you with the results after reopening? — Metropol Palace is a landmark hotel for the city of Belgrade. I did not have the opportunity to visit it before the renovation, therefore, I am not able to compare its actual status against what it was previously. However, one thing is certain, that the reconstruction that took place has succeeded to extend the grandeur of this great hotel which is connected with the history of this magnificent city.
Metropol Palace is being a leading hotel for congresses in the city of Belgrade Are you planning any new hotel investments? — The Owning Company which renovated the hotel seven years ago is always alert in making further investments to provide our guests with additional facilities. At this stage, I can inform you that there is a plan
in place for more investments which will improve Metrpol Palace even further and continue placing the hotel in the leading position of the luxury hotel segment in the city of Belgrade.
Who are the most frequent guests of your hotel? — The main nationalities are the key European feeder markets of Germany, UK, France, but also ex-Yugoslavian states, Belgium and Greece. It has to be noted that China has evolved as a new strong market and the USA shows increasing trends as well. Belgrade has also become a center for congress tourism. How focused are you on this segment? — This is a key segment for Metropol Palace, being a leading hotel for congresses in the city of Belgrade, and it will continue
There is a plan in place for more investments which will improve Metrpol Palace even further and continue placing the hotel in the leading position of the luxury hotel segment in the city of Belgrade
of Metropol Palace to connect the historic hotel soon with more success stories.
to be a key feature of our annual business mix. I come from a very strong background in selling and organising congresses and large meetings and events and am looking forward to working closely with the Sales & Marketing and Operations Teams
In your opinion, what is the tourism potential of Belgrade? — Currently, Belgrade is experiencing an upward trend in incoming tourism which will continue to grow further given political and social stability in the country. Belgrade itself is an amazing city which step by step is being discovered by the Europeans and not only. Combining the above with the fact that the prices are still at very reasonable levels will help the tourism in the city to increase further and at a higher speed growth rate. It is not by luck that some international chain hotels have announced new projects in the city. I expect an evolution of tourism in the next 3 to 5 years, given that the political stability remains in the country.
celebrations in the hotel. During the First Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, a reception was organized for 30 heads of state or government and over 3,000 guests. VIP guests included. The Metropol is known for its specific, white façade, the large stained glass window and the mosaic. Due to the protection as the cultural monument, they were not to be changed during the reconstruction but they were fully restored. In front of the hotel is the fountain with the sculpture "The girl takes a shower". The lobby has marbled floor and a large wall painting made from the inlayed pieces of differently colored wood. It was es-
pecially ordered by Brašovan for the hotel in 1956. The hotel had a total floor area of 28,000 m2 which was enlarged to 30,000 m2 after the 2012 reconstruction. The reconstructed hotel has several restaurants, spa, fitness center, sauna, steambath, massage center, gym and the meeting halls with the capacity of 1,000 guests. An underground, three-level garage with 100 parking spots was built so as the bar on the hotel's flat roof. There are 199 rooms, 130 in the main body of the building while 69 rooms and 40 suites are in the so-called annex, the eastern extension. The suites include the presidential and the royal ones.
Hotel Metropol Palace was opened in 1957 and the building, projected by Dragiša Brašovan, has been declared a cultural monument in 2001. Projected as the House of the Central Committee of the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia, the building was originally envisioned as the "largest congress center in the Balkans". After the idea of the congress center was abandoned, architect Dragiša Brašovan revised the plans and adapted the structure as the highrise hotel. In the 1960s and 1970s the Metropol was one of the most popular and elite venues in Belgrade and President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, organized his New Year's Eve
I NT ER VI EW
TOGETHER TOWARDS A BETTER ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
SELENA DJORDJEVIĆ Executive Officer of the HBA
Both countries have been recording better results in bilateral cooperation year-on-year, but the pace of overcoming obstacles in doing business is still relatively slow
he Hellenic Business Association of Serbia (HBA), as a non-governmental and non-profit organization which firmly believes that new, constructive and mutually beneficial business partnerships can be built through networking and providing appropriate support. The HBA has been focusing on implementing activities, mainly with the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, which ultimate goal is connecting business people and finding new opportunities for economic cooperation," Selena Djordjević, Executive Officer of the HBA, said at the beginning of the interview.
Are HBA members satisfied with the business climate in Serbia? The traditionally excellent economic,
political and business relations between Greece and Serbia have contributed to the fact that Serbia is one of the most attractive business destinations in the southwestern Balkans. Our members show great satisfaction with the business
THIS YEAR WAS EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER AND VARIETY OF EVENTS WE ORGANIZED, AS WELL AS WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
environment in Serbia as the conditions of the business sector are improving yearon-year since the state, through various programmes, is facilitating and boosting the operations of domestic and foreign companies in order to achieve economic growth. Proximity to the market, free trade agreements with many countries, educated workforce, low tax rates, better living standard, competitiveness and state subsidies are just some of the advantages for Greek companies in doing business or are interested in doing business in Serbia. Furthermore, the process of alignment with EU regulations, judicial reform and streamlining of bureaucratic procedures have made the conditions for bolstering and expanding bilateral economic relations even more favourable in 2019, since the business climate in the country is much more stable for the existing investors and more attractive for potential ones. How much interest are Greek companies showing in investing in Serbia? In recent years, the successful implementation of structural reforms and other measures by the Serbian government with the view of ensuring economic and financial stability have significantly improved the business and investment environment in Serbia. This was confirmed
by the recent World Bank Doing Business report, which ranked Serbia among the top 10 countries in terms of improving the investment environment. This was precisely the reason why many Greek companies recognized Serbia's investment and economic potential and decided to locate or relocate their businesses to Serbia. In our opinion, it is quite optimistic to note that the Greek economy's expected growth in the coming years will lead to the even greater interest of Greek companies and investments in the Serbian market. The establishment of the High Economic Cooperation Council by the two countries will contribute to this. How can we further improve the economic cooperation between the two countries? The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia brings together companies from the banking, construction, hospitality, heavy industry and telecommunications sectors, but according to the latest economic trends, an increasing number of Greek firms we expect to join us come from sectors such as energy and renewable energy sources, transport, telecommunications and construction, which indicates that our ambitions in promoting the aforementioned areas have produced quite positive results. Of course, the great recovery of the Greek economy contributed to this, relative to the previous years, which promises the further development of bilateral economic relations. We should also note that, because of the importance of economic and business cooperation with the EU, Serbia has been aligning its standards with the European ones for quite some time, which has also resulted in several positive devel-
opments in economic cooperation with all European countries, including Greece.
uting to the renovation of the Church of Saint Archangel Gabriel in Zemun.
What activities have you carried out this year? This year was extremely successful in terms of the number and variety of events we organized, as well as welcoming new members. These activities include B2B
What are your plans for 2020? Generally speaking, in 2020, the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia will try to improve its services and adapt them primarily to the needs of its members, but also to the needs of Greek entrepreneurs interested in the Serbian market. We think that the needs that have to be addressed to a greater extent have to do with the information. So, our plans for 2020 are aimed at conducting information seminars and presentations for different sizes and types of companies, providing refined information on certain topics and guidelines on investment and financial opportunities in the country, and, of course, enhancing the existing ongoing dialogue between the Association and system’s institutions in Serbia and Greece. The Association is also searching for new opportunities for business cooperation between the two parties and working on improving the existing cooperation. The data so far show that both countries have been recording better results in bilateral cooperation year-on-year, but the pace of overcoming obstacles in doing business is still relatively slow. For the two parties to communicate and bolster their business relations more effectively, our Association will strive to organize various thematic presentations, seminars and meetings next year aimed at better acquainting our members with the Serbian legislation, the market and the opportunities for its utilization. We strongly believe that the time has come for Greece and Serbia to make a greater effort by joining forces to overcome problems that hamper their truly great economic potential.
THE ASSOCIATION IS ALSO SEARCHING FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES AND WORKING ON IMPROVING THE EXISTING COOPERATION meetings in the building materials and energy sector, presentations by the EU Delegation to Serbia, presentation of the benefits of the Pirot Free Zone, business cocktails, etc. At the same time, the Association is also working on improving and overcoming business obstacles through formal or informal meetings that it constantly holds with Greek and Serbian officials. Plus, as our members operate as socially responsible foreign investors, the Association also insists on supporting the promotion of the Greek culture and the protection of the Greek community in Serbia through activities such as providing space and purchasing equipment for the Greek School in Belgrade, or contrib-
THE ASSOCIATION IS ALSO SEARCHING FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES AND WORKING ON IMPROVING THE EXISTING COOPERATION GREECE 2019
Success STORY The ISOMAT brand is inherently associated with high quality and reliability at every level. It has its own solid identity, which is dynamic, flexible and constantly evolving
SOMAT is a producer of building chemicals and mortars with a multinational perspective. It was founded in 1980 and it is currently one of the most important industries of building materials in South-East Europe, with 3 production plants in Greece, Romania and Serbia, 7 subsidiaries in Germany, Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, and export sales in more than 55 countries in the world.The company produces and distributes a wide range of products summarized in the following 6 product categories Waterproofing Materials, Paints & Renders,Tile Adhesives & Grouts, Repairing Materials, Admixtures and Floorings.
INNOVATION ISOMAT is committed to innovation and to the constant development of new products. To this end, the company owns a fully organised R&D department, equipped with specialized scientific personnel working in 5 different chemistry labs, where new products are developed every year in keeping up with the changing market needs and the latest technological developments in the building sector.
Their corporate strategy is defined by an outward-looking attitude. They strengthen their presence abroad either by creating production or commercial subsidiaries or through their commercial presence with local distributors. Their specialized exports sales executives support their customers abroad, offering know-how in terms of properties and correct application of their products, training through technical seminars, as well as a vast array of promotion material to facilitate sales.
The ISOMAT brand is inherently associated with high quality and reliability at every level
tion industry. It is a brand with a modern outlook with a penchant for innovation, yet without forgoing its traditional values. Their brand products are selected for their high quality, their ease of use, the final solution offered and the perfect result in terms of protection and aesthetic appeal. Besides, other than the advantages offered by their products, the ISOMAT brand is selected for its excellent know-how, its integrated and customized solutions provided, its versatility and top-level customer service. Yet, beyond anything else, the ISOMAT brand has managed to become synonymous to RELIABILITY in the eyes of the consumers and professionals, thanks to their corporate culture and the highly specialised personnel behind every single process aimed at the development, production and sale of ISOMAT products.
IN SERBIA The ISOMAT brand is inherently associated with high quality and reliability at every level. It has its own solid identity, which is dynamic, flexible and constantly evolving. It has a dynamic personality that differentiates it from other brands in the construc-
The company was founded in Belgrade in 2005 and it focused on the exclusive trade and distribution of ISOMAT products in the Serbian market. Since early 2011, it has been operating as a production company, as ISOMAT opened its own factory in Belgrade.
COOPER AT I ON
A CENTURIES-OLD CONNECTION The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Greece and Serbia is coming soon
he centuries-old ties and friendship of Serbia and Greece, as well as of the Serbian and Greek people, are characterized by closeness and solidity, and imbued with mutual respect and understanding, as seen in examples of solidarity in the most difficult historical moments. This year also marks 140 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which elevated the cooperation to the strategic partnership level. The bilateral relations have grown stronger over the years, with the third session of the High Council for Cooperation between Serbia and Greece to take place in December in Athens. The Serbian delegation will be led by the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Greece and Serbia is also currently in the making, which is likely to be signed at the December meeting. The declaration will create opportunities for an even better cooperation between our two countries. In October this year, Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić officially visited Athens following the invitation from her Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In Athens, PM Brnabić attended the 4th EU-Arab World Summit under the title “Strategic Partnership”. On the Summit sidelines, PM Brnabić met with the Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Mitsotakis to discuss Serbian-Greek relations. According to the data collated by the Serbian Statistical Office, in 2018, the value of the external trade between Serbia and Greece stood at almost 500 million euro.
The dynamics of Greek-Serbian political cooperation is also reflected in bilateral economic and trade relations, while there are significant opportunities for further development and bolstering of these relations. According to the Export and Investment Promotion Institute, Greece is one of the largest foreign investors in Serbia.
IN 2018, THE VALUE OF THE EXTERNAL TRADE BETWEEN SERBIA AND GREECE STOOD AT ALMOST 500 MILLION EURO Greek investors have been mostly investing in general construction activities and construction materials, retail, telecommunications, catering and tourism services, consulting, banking, food and beverage industry, etc. An estimated 200 Greek companies
are operating in the Serbian market, employing more than 20,000 people. The total value of the Greek FDI is estimated at around 1.5 billion euro, while direct and indirect Greek investments together exceed 2.5 billion euro. There are significant opportunities to improve and strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade relations. Indicatively, in 2018, Greece was among the main exporters to the Serbian market. In addition, Serbian exports to Greece increased significantly during 2018, compared to 2017 (15%), which resulted in a steady increase in bilateral trade. According to the data published by the Serbian Statistical Office in 2018, Greece mainly exported the following to Serbia - crude oil and asphalt ore oil, processed fruits - fresh or dried, aluminium, footwear, paints, varnishes and similar products. On the other hand, in 2018, Serbia mainly exported to Greece the following - sugar, molasses and honey, various types of rubber, paper and cardboard, polymeric ethylene in primary forms and elongated iron or steel products.
COMEBACK Rocky Road to Recovery
reece shrugged off high debt and weak economic growth to clinch successful bond sales in comeback runs, but long-term issues may cut their growth short. Greece have both experienced economic progress in recent months, a testament to new governments, but also the years of austerity and painful reforms. Greece have made remarkable progress since the worst of the sovereign debt crisis. Country has built up a cash buffer of more than 30 billion euros from unused loans and money raised from markets. Greece government hopes higher investment and tax cuts will help power economic growth next year as the country recovers from a decade-long debt crisis.Growth will pick up to at least 2.8 percent next year from 2 percent in 2019, based on a draft budget submitted to Parliament by the conservative government. Unemployment is forecast to drop to 15.6 percent next year from 17.4 percent in 2019, while Athens projects public debt will fall to 167.8 percent of GDP, or 331 billion euros, in 2020 from an expected 173.3 percent of GDP this year.As well as broadening the tax base, the conservative government wants to cut taxes for businesses and raise social spending next year. The policies it plans are worth 1.2 billion euros, the budget said, and will help spur growth. Country have jump-started economic growth and made significant bond sales, where previously investors had demanded large premiums for their sovereign bonds. Greece recently issued new three-month debt at a negative yield for the first time, joining a budding club of European states. Despite this progress, Mediterranean countrie is still subject to very high levels of public debt – Greece’s stood at over 180 percent of national income
at the end of 2018. Greece is projecting growth at optimistic rates – although higher than forecasts from the European Commission – and depends on foreign investment that appears hopeful but has not yet materialised. Greek success has depended on the help of the European Central Bank and their increasingly expansionary monetary stances that helped push down bond yields. But their newly friendly government are a big plus too, as were their years of austerity and painful reforms.
GREEK SUCCESS HAS DEPENDED ON THE HELP OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK AND THEIR INCREASINGLY EXPANSIONARY MONETARY STANCES THAT HELPED PUSH DOWN BOND YIELDS
The centre-right government in Greece, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, replaced the left-wing Syriza government led by Alexis Tsipras, and came to power on the platform of cutting taxes and boosting investment. Either way, investors are pleased. A major hurdle for Greece is offsetting their non-performing loans held by banks, an unfortunate legacy from the debt crisis still dragging the economy down. Their most recent innovation to cut into the total 75 billion euros of bad debt is called Hercules, named after the legendary strongman of ancient myth. The idea is to speed up selling them off by repackaging bad loans into securities with the state and guaranteeing the safest portions. For these guarantees to be activated, banks will first have to sell at least half the junior bonds issued in the securitisation. The EU has approved the scheme and the endeavour is likely to kick off before the end of the year. Hercules will mobilise 9 billion euros in state guarantees, and likely contribute about 200 million euros annually to Greece’s public budget. Even so, this massive undertaking will only address about 40 percent of Greece’s total NPL backlog, and a total of 50 billion euros worth of debt need to be slashed by 2021 in order to meet regulatory targets. The programme has six steps. First, bad loans will be securitised in three tranches: senior, mezzanine, and junior, with the state guarantee only kicking in for the senior tranche. Following this are different timelines required to package, sell off, and pay off these tranches. Obligatory payments, like fees to servicers and guarantee fees on the senior notes, will be paid first. The order of remaining cash flow to other tranches will then be interest on the mezzanine notes, repayment in full of the senior notes, full repayment of mezzanine notes, and finally, pay-out of junior notes.
The Quantity of e-Waste is
INCREASING GLOBALLY We are familiar with the principle of the circulation of matter in nature, and today it has become necessary to introduce the principle of circulation in the production as well in order to minimize the waste production, and the products that were previously obtained are given a new purpose after alteration or an entirely new form and purpose after recycling
CHRISTOS VLACHOS Commercial Manager Inos Balkan
NOS BALKAN has been trading and processing ferrous and non-ferrous metals and other forms of industrial scrap for more than 60 years. The company established its operations in 1951. In 2006, it was fully acquired by ANAMET, the largest Greek metal recycling company. Since 2006 the company has been gradually increasing its operational capacities. Today it ranks among the 5 largest companies in the metal recycling industry of Serbia, considerably contributing to the country’s exporting potential.
What is the significance of the circular economy in everyday life? — The circular economy represents a new, more sustainable economic approach that should replace the widely spread and wornout linear model. We are familiar with the principle of the circulation of matter in nature, and today it has become necessary to introduce the principle of circulation in the production as well in order to minimize
the waste production, and the products that were previously obtained are given a new purpose after alteration or an entirely new form and purpose after recycling. Many economists have recognized the lack of a desire for sustainable development among traditional entrepreneurs. Apart from them, many other have tackled the challenge to find a new business model that saves resources, does not create waste, protects the environment and
Inos Balkan operates under strict corporate values and ethics at the same stimulates economic growth and job creation. Traditionally, the concept of life was based on the policy of taking, exploitation, and rejection, while the circular model advocates return to nature and the reuse of already used products. Drawing attention to energy efficiency and environ-
mental sustainability makes the keystone of this way of thinking and can be applied to all aspects of life.
E-waste recycling or reuse? — Rapidly developing technology and an increasing number of products containing electrical or electronic functions has led to discarded electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) being one of the fastest-growing waste streams. The EU has enacted several iterations of the WEEE Directive to address this complex waste stream. Recycling is the primary treatment method for e-waste. This is problematic because it has neglected, to some extent, the potential to increase product longevity, repair and reuse. Solutions suggested in the EU studies moving to circular business models, improving existing collection, transportation and WEEE treatment infrastructure, and adopting sustainable design practices. Waste management companies have been innovative in developing facilities to meet legislative requirements but largely depend on shredding technologies to capture easily recoverable materials in large
Many economists have recognized the lack of a desire for sustainable development among traditional entrepreneurs quantities. The quantity of e-waste is increasing globally as new applications for electrical and electronic components are introduced in a growing number of goods. The EU Directive has led to an increase in recycling, which is preferable to incineration and landfill but has done little to encourage repair, refurbishment and reuse. There is a need to strengthen it, or related legislation to encourage design for disassembly to enable goods to be separated into major materials for recycling more easily.
Anamet has invested more than â‚Ź11 million into our Serbian operations. Are you planning any new investments? â€” ELVs are cars or light commercial vehicles that are no longer suitable for use and are discarded as waste. ELVs gener-
ate between 8 and 9 million tons of waste in the EU annually. The EU ELV Directive (2000/53/EC) sets out measures to promote the reuse, recycling and recovery of ELVs and requires each Member State to meet the targets of 95% reuse and recovery of ELVs, with a minimum of 85% reuse and recycling. In addition, with the announced legislation and amendments will impose the necessary rules that will secure a leveled playfield and allow the recycling market to operate according to the rules of free trade. Inos Balkan operates under
strict corporate values and ethics. Anamet is ready to invest, especially when it comes to the recycling of special waste streams like ELVs, the operation and the financing of the collection take back schemes can be easily developed. The EU offers multiple examples of the efficient and inefficient application of the specific business model. Our commercial activities are based on long term business relationships with suppliers and customers, with respect to the environment and full compliance to all corresponding legislation.
H BA ACT I VI T IES
MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES OF THE HELLENIC BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF SERBIA Take a look at what HBA has done throughout this year
15th Anniversary Celebration 1
15th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
On June 5th, in honor of the 15th anniversary of its establishment, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia held a ceremony in Grand Casino attended by members, representatives of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade and friends of the Association. During the ceremony, the Management Board awarded the Head of Economic and Commercial Affairs Department of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade, Mr Charalampos Kounalakis, a plaque in gratitude for his work and contribution to the mission of HBA and proclaimed its first honorary member, Mr Georgios Luhnos, who is one of the founders of the Association. The celebration was preceded by the General Assembly.
NEW VISUAL IDENTITY The Management Board of Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, in cooper-
ation with its member, V+O Communication, created a new logo aiming to represent its new corporate visual identity and reflecting the 15 years of its existence. The design rationale for the new corporate identity was founded on the need to have an identity that accurately represents HBAâ€™s two constituent parts. Through the use of a strong design, the new logo highlights long-term business links between Greece and Serbia, while at the same time providing architecturally the thread in the history and heritage of the Hellenic Republic. In this sense, it visually approaches the national crest of Greece, which consists of a blue escutcheon with a white cross, but it also contains an indispensable part that symbolises the Republic of Serbia, under the red colour. In this way, the new logo essentially represents and announces to the public great support and dynamism in strengthening business relations between the two countries.
COOPERATION WITH CHAMBERS
AND ASSOCIATIONS IN SERBIA
International Networking Cocktail It was in May 2019 that thirteen bilateral business associations organized the now annual International Networking Cocktail, with more than three hundred guests, including members of the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, Chamber of Italian-Serbian Businessmen, French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce AHK, Slovenian Business Club, Croatian Business Club, Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Dutch-Serbian Economic Association, Nordic Business Alliance, CANSEE Canadian-Serbian Business Association, Belgian-Serbian Business Association and British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps. The International Networking Cocktail
serves as a platform for enhancing business cooperation between members of associations, through the establishing of business contacts and exchanges of experiences and ideas, with the aim of realising potential business cooperation. The event also supports the further strengthening of cooperation between business associations.
2B meetings with companies B from the environmental sector During this March’s official visit of a delegation of Greek companies operating in the field of energy and the environment, headed by Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Sokrates Famellos, the HBA organised B2B meetings with Serbian companies.
resentation on “EU funds for P Particular Sectors” During March this year, in cooperation with the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade and the EU Delegation to Serbia, the HBA held a presentation on a more specific topic: “EU Funds for Particular Sectors”. Head of Cooperation, Mr Yngve Engström, and IPF Programme Manager of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Mrs Valentina di Sebastiano, presented all sectors and fields of EU projects and programmes in Serbia, while the innovative topic of the lecture attracted the attention of a large number of participants.
cquaintance with member A companies of the Regional Chamber of Commerce Pirot The HBA, in cooperation with the Regional Chamber of Commerce Pirot, hosted a presentation this April on the Pirot-based chamber’s projects, services, membership privileges and Free Zone Pirot, as well as B2B meetings of member companies. Informal B2B meetings provided attendees with the opportunity to network, exchange information and contacts, as well as to identify possible steps towards future joint cooperation.
resentation on active P employment measures HBA member representatives, together with their colleagues from six other business associations, gathered for a working breakfast organised with the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation to learn about active employment measures implemented by the National Employment Service and to exchange experiences of using benefits for employers. It was concluded at the meeting, held in April 2019, that it is in the interest of all socially responsible companies to include more people with disabilities in the labour market.
Vasilopita Cutting The HBA organised for its members and friends the 13th annual event in honour of the traditional breaking of “Vasilopita” - the New Year’s Day cake containing a hidden coin. “Vasilopita Cutting” is the HBA’s first activity every year, which symbolically brings good luck and prosperity to member companies. This year’s ceremony, which was also attended by representatives of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade, the HBA awarded companies Isomat, TGI Group International and Junior KM Cards in recognition of their 10th anniversary of membership.
International Networking Cocktail
ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF THE HBA
STUDENT PRACTICE PROGRAMME “GREEK INITIATIVE FOR WORK EXPERIENCE” Under the patronage of the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade, the HBA – in cooperation with the University of Belgrade – organised a three-month work placement practise for students at HBA member companies. This independent initiative has been organised for the fifth consecutive year, with the aim of professionally training students, connecting them with the labour market and networking among Greek businesses in Serbia, as well as promoting member companies of the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia. The programme, entitled “Greek Initiative to Work Experience”, aimed at students in the final year of undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Belgrade who wanted to gain their first work experience and thus improve their chances on the labour market. The programme has been traversed by over 85 students, who evaluated with high marks the quality of practise, while the best in the practise gained employment. This year, upon completion of the programme, participants received a certificate of completed practise.
COOPERATION WITH MEMBER-COMPANIES
reek Family Weekend in G Kopaonik In cooperation with its company-member Hotel Junior, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia held for the fourth time the “Greek Family Weekend in Kopaonik“ in October 2019. The weekend was attended by HBA members, representatives of the
Embassy of Greece in Belgrade and others, all of whom had an opportunity to enjoy a unique weekend and feel the warmth of Greek hospitality, accompanied by relaxation, fun, joy, numerous sporting activities and, of course, original live Greek music. usiness breakfast on “Tax B and customs aspects of inward processing” In November 2018, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia – in cooperation with its member company Confida Consulting and with the support of the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy, the Belgian-Serbian Business Association, AHK Serbia, the Swiss-Serbian and the Italian-Serbian chambers of commerce, the Slovenian Business Club and the Japanese Business Association – held its annual autumn working breakfast, entitled “Tax and customs aspects of inward processing”. The breakfast included a presentation and panel discussion among members of the Tax team of Confida Consulting and the Customs Department of Gebrüder Weiss.
“4th GREEK WEEKEND” IN BELGRADE The 4th Greek Weekend in Belgrade was held successfully in May 2019 on the city’s Square of Nikola Pasic, under the patronage of the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, the Greek National Tourism Organisation (Office in Belgrade), and the Hellenic Business Association in Serbia, with the support of the City of Belgrade, the Tourist Organisation of Belgrade and the Tourist Organisation of Serbia. Organised by HBA member company International Friend-
4th Greek Weekend in Belgrade
ship Association, the weekend aimed to present the whole of Greece (Greek enterprises in Serbia, tourism, tradition, music, cuisine etc.), and to also contribute to further strengthening traditionally good relations between Greece and Serbia.
MEETING WITH GREEK OFFICIALS Over the course of the last year, Hellenic Business Association in Serbia has been realising a large number of meetings aimed at exchanging opinions on the economic and business cooperation that frames relations between Greece and Serbia. HBA had the honour and pleasure of meeting with Greek officials and discussing all the important issues of Greek entrepreneurship in Serbia. Among others, HBA met with the President of the New Democracy Party, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr Georgios Stathakis, the former Member of Parliament and head of Foreign Affairs at the New Democracy Party, Mr Georgios Koumoutsakos, the Vice President of the Central Chamber of Commerce and President of the Chamber of Industries in Athens, Mr Pavlos Ravanis, the President of Central Market of Thessaloniki, Mr Dimitris Hampidis, the President of Pirot’s Chamber of Commerce, Mr Dragan Kostic, as well as representatives of the Greek-Serbian Chamber of Commerce of Northern Greece etc.
SPECIAL PUBLICATIONS AND INTERVIEWS
I nterview for the magazine “ Serbian Economy ” The Vice-President and the member of
the Management Board of Hellenic Business Association, Mr Vasileios Kakagiotis and Ms Charikleia-Rita Lozinsky, gave in September 2019 interview for the magazine “Serbian Economy”, in which they stressed the role of the Association, the position of Greek entrepreneurs regarding the business climate in Serbia and the Association's expectations in relation to trade and business environment. BA’s special publication H “Member2Member 2019” In October, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia presented its special publication entitled “Member2Member 2019”, intended to promote the products and services of its member companies in the wider Greek-Serbian business community. The publication contains special offers and discounts of the member companies in various business categories.
DONATIONS The Greek School in Belgrade, where pre-school and school-age children can learn the Greek language, is a self-financing organisation that holds various events with Greek characteristics. Since the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia welcomes any initiative aimed at promoting Greek culture and tradition, its Management Board launched an initiative to support the work of this school. On the basis of this initiative, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia provided an alternative space for conducting lessons and procured part of the essential equipment for the school, which can now hold its classes freely and has a growing number of students.
Business breakfast on “Tax and customs aspects of inward processing”
Over 20 years of
In addition to the friendly staff, professional attitude towards customers and affordable top-notch products, our company’s success is also due to a large stock of machines and high-quality parts, as well as the reliable service department with many years of experience
GEORGIOS KALAITZAKIS Director of the MINOAN Company
eorgios Kalaitzakis founded the MINOAN Company in 1997. The company has over twenty years of experience in the sale and servicing of lamination, binding and thermal binding machines, vinyl cutters and plotters, as well as machines for engraving and milling (3D), laser engraving and cutting, laser electrochemical processing, T-shirt and ceramics printing, nail art printing, paper-cutting and punching, paper and CD shredding, offset printing, packaging, money counting and detection, and all ID card accessories. In 2003, the company founded its brand MBL. The wide range, high technological level of products with the recognizable MBL logo, and the professional attitude towards the customers are responsible for MBL’s success, which occupies one of the leading positions in the regional market.
Why did you decide to stay in Serbia after finishing your studies here and start a business? — I came to Belgrade to study at the Facul-
ty of Physical Education. Since I come from a merchant family, who has been in commerce for 50 years, I have always been attracted to that line of business. While I was studying, I researched the market and after graduation, launched my own business.
MBL has been in business for 22 years. What is the secret of your success? — The secret of my success lies in the fact that I love my work, I am a hard and honest worker, and we regularly invest in technology and innovations. You have a prominent position in the domestic market for high-quality laser cutting machines and engraving of various materials. Can you tell us a little more
MBL ltd has been in business for 22 years and is one of the leading importers and exporters of office, graphic, industrial and finishing machines and related consumables in Serbia
about your business? — MBL ltd has been in business for 22 years and is one of the leading importers of office, graphic, industrial and finishing machines and related consumables in Serbia. In the last 15 years, we have been quite successful at selling and servicing laser cutting and engraving machines and training people how to use them. If we look at the number of lasers we sold, we occupy a leading position in the market. In 2003, the company founded its brand MBL. In our showroom, which spans 200 square metres, you can see different machine models and get the information you need. In addition to the friendly staff, professional attitude to customers and affordable top-notch products, our company’s success is also due to a large stock of machines and high-quality parts, as well as the reliable service department with many years of experience. Last but not least, since you live in Belgrade, what do you miss most about Greece? — To tell you the truth, I don’t think much about it. I have lived in Serbia for 30 years, I started the family here and I have two grown sons. Serbia is my home which gives me great opportunities for business. GREECE 2019
TRA D I TI O N
MOSAIC OF FLAVOURS Until fairly recently, most tourists knew of only a small number of standard dishes – moussaka, tzatziki, Greek salad, stuffed vine leaves, baklava – without realising that each corner of this incredibly varied country has its specialities
reeks approach food with a combination of seriousness and nostalgia, inevitably thinking back to the dishes they were raised on. They don’t eat to live but rather live to eat, and a meal is almost always a social, convivial occasion, which revives the original meaning of companionship – people who broke bread together. Greek cuisine offers unique treats. In Greece, lunch or dinner can last for hours, and the more people gathered at the table the better, because good food and good wine make for a good talk. So, sit down and get ready to enjoy yourself. You’ll start with a series of hors d’oeuvres, known as the mezedes. Presented on little plates and designed to whet your appetite, they may be accompanied by ouzo, the national drink, schnapps-like tsipouro or, of course, wine. From ancient times to today, Greek eating habits have changed so radically that it’s difficult to summarize the gastronomic culture of the country in a few words. Although it’s highly likely that Homer’s heroes would feel at home at a Greek Easter, they would not recognise the lemons, potatoes or tomatoes, and much more. Since those days, so many new fruits and vegetables have arrived on these shores, so many people have introduced different ways of
cooking them, from both East and West, that tracing the roots and trends of traditional Greek cuisine is complicated. But one thing has always been true: the emphasis on authentic raw ingredients, unadulterated and grown locally.
IN GREECE, LUNCH OR DINNER CAN LAST FOR HOURS, AND THE MORE PEOPLE GATHERED AT THE TABLE THE BETTER, BECAUSE GOOD FOOD AND GOOD WINE MAKE FOR A GOOD TALK Until fairly recently, most tourists knew of only a small number of standard dishes – moussaka, tzatziki, Greek salad, stuffed vine leaves, baklava – without realising that each corner of this incredibly varied country has its specialities. Greek cuisine is a mosaic of flavours that tells the story of Greece’s rich cultural and culinary history. While herbs – thyme,
oregano, basil, mint – are used extensively in Greek cooking, the presence of spices is part of the Byzantine heritage and a testimony to the great influx of Greeks from Asia Minor. To them, we owe such popular dishes as moussaka, imam baildi (stuffed eggplant), all the syrupy phyllo pastries in the baklava family, meats seasoned with cumin, and many many more. In the local cuisine of the north, you may even come across emblematic dishes from the Pontus – brought by Greeks from the Caucasus – such as piroshki, a warming soup (sorbas) of bulgur and yoghurt, and little pies called pisia filled with anything you can imagine. By now, these treats have been absorbed into the mainstream cuisine, but you’ll find them especially in tavernas in places where the refugees first moved, in the Athenian neighbourhoods of Palio Faliro, Nea Smyrni, Nea Ionia and, of course, in Thessaloniki, that great melting pot of cultures. There, in addition to foods from Asia Minor, you’ll find Sephardic Jewish dishes, specialities from the Balkans and plenty of marvellous seafood, such as pilaf with ultra-fresh mussels, shrimps in tomato sauce and scores of little dishes which all go down a treat with a little ouzo and friendly company.
A JOURNEY THROUGH HISTORY
To visit Greece is to enjoy an epic tale that goes back at least 5,000 years, where the dividing line between myth and history become beautifully blurred. The ‘300’ is not just a movie, the Odyssey is not just a book. They are instead milestones on the course of human history and the development of civilisation
reek mythology was used as a means to explain the environment in which humankind lived, the natural phenomena they witnessed and the passing of time through the days, months, and seasons. Myths were used to re-tell historical events so that people could maintain contact with their ancestors, the wars they fought, and the places they explored. What is certain is that the myths were both familiar and popular with a wide section of Greek society through their common representation in art, whether that be sculpture on public buildings or scenes painted on pottery. Without widespread literacy, the passing on of myths was first done orally, probably by Minoan and Mycenaean bards from the 18th century BCE onwards. The next development in the presentation of myths was the creation of poems in Ionia and the celebrated poems of Homer and Hesiod around the 8th century BCE. For the first time mythology was presented in written form. Homer’s Iliad recounts the final stages of the Trojan War - perhaps an amalgamation of many conflicts between Greeks and their eastern neighbours in
the late Bronze Age (1800-1200 BCE) - and the Odyssey recounts the protracted voyage home of the hero Odysseus following the Trojan War. Hesiod’s Theogony gives a genealogy of the gods, and his Works and Days describes the creation of man. Not only are gods described with typically human feelings and failings but also heroes are created, often with one divine parent and the other mortal, thus providing a link between man and the
MYTHS WERE BOTH FAMILIAR AND POPULAR WITH A WIDE SECTION OF GREEK SOCIETY THROUGH THEIR COMMON REPRESENTATION IN ART, WHETHER THAT BE SCULPTURE ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS OR SCENES PAINTED ON POTTERY
gods. The next principal representation of myths was through pottery from the 8th century BCE onwards. A myriad of mythical scenes decorate ceramics of all shapes and function and must surely have spread the myths to a wider audience.The myths continued to be popular through the centuries, and major public buildings such as the Parthenon at Athens, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, and the Temple to Apollo at Delphi were decorated with larger-than-life sculpture representing celebrated scenes from mythology. In the 5th century BCE the myths were presented in the new format of theatre, especially in the works of the three tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. At the same time, from the 6th century BCE the first documented scepticism and even rejection of the myths began with the pre-Socratic philosophers who searched for a more scientific explanation for phenomena and events. Finally, in the 5th century BCE the first historians Herodotus and Thucydides sought to document as accurately as possible and record for posterity a less subjective view of events and so the modern subject of history was born.
T OU R I SM
The blue sea, exotic beaches, bright Aegean light, hospitable locals, islands with their unique architecture and culture, in addition to the high standards of service, five-star hotels, boutique hotels, spas and marinas, make Greece an ideal holiday location
hen you think of sun and sea, you think of Greece. A country synonymous with sunlight, crystalline Aegean and Ionian Seas, award-winning beaches and marinas, countless islands, yachting and sailing, sea sports and more. In Greece, summer holidays begin in May and last until October. Even if you didn’t experience 1960s, you’ll still know that Greece has been famous ever since then, throughout the
world, for its sun and beaches – and today remains one of the top holiday destinations in the world. The blue sea, exotic beaches, bright Aegean light, hospitable locals, islands with their unique architecture and culture, in addition to the high standards of service, five-star hotels, boutique hotels, spas and marinas, make Greece an ideal holiday location. It’s a country drenched in sunlight, living by the sea year round! From May until October Greece enjoys
summer and invites you to enjoy it too, with all your senses. Swimming in crystalline seas, endless hours of relaxation on exotic beaches and secret coves. Sailing in the Ionian and Aegean, windsurfing, kitesurfing, beach volleyball, kayaking. Scuba diving in the deep and exploring underwater sea caves. Walking through archaeological sites and paths that gaze out at the sea, tavernas on the waterfront, beach bars with parties that last until dawn, wedding ceremonies with views
Super Vero, renowned Greek quality! Veropoulos has been the first foreign retailer in Serbia, they established a company in 2001, bought land and built the Super Vero hyper market in Belgrade. Many changes have taken place in Super Vero since then, but there is something that faithful consumers can always rely on: affordable prices for high quality products, rich offer and Greek touch. That is why Super Vero has won 3 Top Serbian Brand of the Year awards in the supermarket category and is favourite among urban and sophisticated consumers. Veropoulos has been continuously monitoring the needs of the Serbian market and consumer demands, while continuing to grow, develop and successfully deal with all the challenges that came its way. This year, the New Belgrade supermarket was renovated, which was welcomed by customers. They like the new look, activation of corners, attractive offer with many products that can be bought only in Super Vero, the new department with fresh fish, bakery with original French pastries and the Bistro restaurant that is an integral part of a store. Super Vero in TC Zira is already under transformation. The other 4 stores will be remodelled too. Apart from its core business, the company is very active in corporate social responsibility through participation in numerous charity events. • Bulevar Milutina Milankovića 86a – Novi Beograd • Mis Irbijeve bb – Konjarnik • Ace Joksimovića 2b – Žarkovo • Vojvode Stepe 253 – Voždovac • Braće Jerković 114 – Voždovac • Nikodima Milaša 2 - TC Zira, Palilula
JUMBO, something for everyone! Jumbo is a famous Greek megastore with an excellent range of over 10000 products for home and family at affordable prices which sells toys, stationary, seasonal and household items, baby products and clothes. Literally, everyone can find something for various occasions, that suits every need, be it home, garden, car, fitness, play, pet or something else. Jumbo is part of the Veropoulos Company in Serbia and operates in four locations, where three of them are together with Super Vero. This way, families have the opportunity to find everything in one place, save time while shopping and spend more time together. Jumbo store Locations in Belgrade: • Bulevar Milutina Milankovića 86a – Novi Beograd • Vojvode Stepe 253 – Voždovac • TC Zemun Park, Autoput Novi Sad 126 • Mis Irbijeve bb – Konjarnik
of the big blue, traditional fairs and festivals with the music of lutes and violins. Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Skiathos, Rhodes, Kefalonia, Zakynthos: from one end of the sea to the other, the Greek islands are the perfect holiday destination. It’s not just the emerald water and the idyllic beaches that make holidays on the Greek islands a world-famous holiday experience. It’s not only the bright light that floods the sea and sky, or the elegant architecture and pure nature. It’s the very personal relationship you can have with your chosen island that puts a seal of perfection on these little Greek oases. A romantic sunset in Santorini’s Oia, painting the horizon every shade of pink... dawn on Mykonos, in Little Venice, drink-
IT’S NOT JUST THE EMERALD WATER AND THE IDYLLIC BEACHES THAT MAKE HOLIDAYS ON THE GREEK ISLANDS A WORLD-FAMOUS HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE 34
IT’S A COUNTRY DRENCHED IN SUNLIGHT, LIVING BY THE SEA YEAR ROUND! ing, dancing and flirting as the sun comes up... the epitome of luxury with a view of the sea from your opulent suite in Elounda, on Crete... travelling back in time, as you walk through Rhodes’ Old Town and aristocratic Corfu... a stately excursion to Athens’ smaller, nearby islands in the Argosaronic Gulf (Hydra, Spetses, Aegina, Poros)... an expedition off the beaten track where you’ll discover hidden
‘diamonds’, islands like Anafi, Kimolos and Kastelorizo, Symi, Alonissos, Samothrace and Paxi.You’ll be drawn into an ecstatic wanderlust, eager to discover all the glories of the Aegean Greek islands: the famous Cyclades with their whitewashed towns, the Lesser Cyclades and the Dodecanese, where you’ll encounter islands blanketed in green, small paradises of luxury (Patmos, Symi) and thriving tradition (Kalymnos, Karpathos, Astypalaia). Add to the mix, the smiles of the locals, the hospitality and the culinary delights of the Mediterranean diet, spice it up with adventures in nature, in the deep, on the waves and on the mountains and you’ll find that discovering the Greek islands makes the best holidays of your life.