The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia represents very diversified Greek business community in Serbia, and reflects it’s successes in confronting numerous challenges and economic circumstances, in both Serbia and Greece
Since its establishment, the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia has been undertaking activities that are aligned with its basic objectives of better connecting the Greek and Serbian markets and improving economic cooperation between the two countries. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the inception of this association, we spoke with its executive director, Fanina Popaz, about the economic environment in Serbia, the objectives of the association and its most important activities directed towards helping the membership, but also the broader investor community and Serbian society as a whole.
What are the most important current interests of the Greek business community in Serbia that your association promotes today?
The interests of the Greek business community relate, first and foremost, to doing business in an environment that’s safe for investment, to unhindered channels of communication with Serbian and Greek institutions, as well as to opportunities for networking and establish ing cooperation with domestic and foreign companies in the country. In this sense, the Association acts as a representative of the Greek business community in Serbia and provides its members with full support in the protecting of their business interests.
Are you satisfied with the quality of dialogue between the HBA and Serbian institutions?
Bilateral business associations represent not only the interests of foreign investors, but also those of the local private sector in the country, and in that sense maintaining an open dialogue with the Government is important to the further improvement of both the business climate and the investment environment. Our cooperation to date with representatives of Serbian institutions has proven successful, given that they’ve always shown a readiness to provide us with answers to questions related to the operations of our member companies, as well as supporting us and participating in the organisation of joint gatherings. We have developed cooperation with all bilateral business associations and chambers of commerce in the country, which enables Greek companies to exchange contacts and network with both local and foreign companies.
The Association also implements humanitarian initiatives. What activities did you organise in the previous period?
During the first two months of the year, two initiatives of a humanitarian and donation nature were implemented. With the support of our members, we organised a humanitarian lottery on Christmas Eve for the second consecutive year. The money collected through this year’s lottery was donated to the “Always With Children” Association of Citizens for the Struggle against Childhood Cancer. We are very proud of this initiative, given that our members thereby, through this joint action, demonstrate their social responsibility and their awareness of the need to donate and help.
The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia was founded on pillars of friendship and the shared interests of Greek businesspeople in the country, who decided over the course of 2003 to construct a platform for connecting, supporting and promoting Greek investments in the country
The following month saw the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia award scholarships to study the Greek language to students of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Orthodox Theology. We are also implementing this initiative for the second consecutive year, in cooperation with the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and with the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, with the aim of promoting the Greek language and culture, but also strengthening and improving cultural and spiritual ties between Greece and Serbia.
From the perspective of existing and potential Greek investors in Serbia, which sectors in our country are the most attractive for investment?
Greek economic interests in Serbia are developed in numerous areas of business, such as the hotel industry, construction, banking, the cement and sugar industries, the sector of petroleum trade, the production of construction materials and aluminium profiles, food and beverage retail, the service sector etc. Greek companies have always shown an interest in investing in the countries of the Western Balkans, including Serbia, as a country with which they share – apart from common economic interests – very good bilateral relations and traditionally friendly ties. Under economic circumstances in which the economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans is being implemented actively, and in which the Green Agenda plays a significant role, Greek companies that possess expertise in the field of renewable energy could play a significant role in the further implementation of RES.
Observing the HBA’s work over the past two decades, what would you highlight as being the Association’s most important strengths?
The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia was founded on pillars of friendship and the shared interests of Greek businesspeople in the country, who decided over the course of 2003 to construct a platform for connecting, supporting and promoting the presence of Greek investments in the country. The Greek business community in Serbia is interconnected and really strives to provide selfless support to all its representatives, while some of the Greek businesspeople who participated in the founding of the Association 20 years ago remain active members today. Over previous years, the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia has affirmed itself as a key player in connecting the Greek and Serbian economies and today addresses official institutions in both countries on behalf of the interests of its members. Thanks to the strong support of its member companies, the HBA promotes not only economic links, but also social and cultural ties between Serbia and Greece. Apart from that, the HBA represents very diversified Greek business community in Serbia, and reflects it’s successes in confronting numerous challenges and economic circumstances, in both Serbia and Greece. The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia is developing constantly, as it adapts its activities and priorities to match the needs of its members and the market under the given economic circumstances.
What will your work prioritise moving forward in 2023?
Throughout 2023, we will continue supporting the operations of our members, in communication with institutions, expanding our network of contacts with local and foreign companies in the country, but also by promoting their products and services through internal channels of communication. Our activities will encompass the organising of training courses and workshops for middle and top management, Speed Business Meetings with colleagues from other bilateral chambers, visits to the production plants of our member companies, as well as traditional annual events like the Vasilopita Cutting event, Summer Cocktail Party and Humanitarian Christmas Dinner. This year’s central event will certainly be the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the work of the Association, which we believe will present the Greek economy’s business, size and diversity in Serbia in an appropriate way.