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Fanina Kovačević-Popaz, Executive Director of the HBA

Consistency & Innovation

The Hellenic Economic Association of Serbia’s 20 years of successful operations represent a source of inspiration and good practices that the HBA will continue to apply in the third decade of its work

Through its activities, the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia aims to contribute to connecting its member companies and advancing their networking with other foreign and domestic companies operating in the country, but also to promote the Greek economy in the broader business community.

The HBA pursues these aims through the organising of various events, from its traditional annual receptions to activities that are organised in cooperation with the community of bilateral chambers and business associations. Through internal channels of communication and its specially created newsletters, this association promotes activities and innovations in the operations of its member companies. Additionally, the HBA provides full support to its membership in communication with Serbian and Greek institutions, with the intention of contributing to the stability of operations and a secure investment environment.

The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia last celebrated the 20th anniversary of its operations. What ambitions do you have as you enter a new decade?

— The jubilee commemorating 20 years of our work showed the importance of the presence of Greek companies in Serbia and their enduring presence as investors and contribution to the local economy, paying tribute to all member companies and Greek businesspeople who participated in the establishment and work of the association. The formal reception at the Hyatt Regency Belgrade hotel to celebrate the anniversary, which we are very proud to have organised successfully, brought together more than 200 representatives of member companies, the diplomatic corps, state institutions, chambers of commerce and the wider Serbian and Greek business community. The HBA was particularly honoured by the presence of Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, Internal and Foreign Trade Minister Tomislav Momirović and Greek Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Maria Levanti, all of whom addressed the audience.

The guests of honour also included Cypriot Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Andreas Photiou, HRH Crown Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević and Princess Katarina Karađorđević, as well as Bishop of Lipjan Archimandrite Dositej. In the third decade of its operations, the HBA will continue to represent the interests of the Greek business community in Serbia, strengthening the recognisability of Greek companies among the country’s authorities and institutions, fortifying links between HBA member companies and other stakeholders in Serbian entrepreneurship, as well as providing support to the implementation of Greek investment initiatives.

How much have Greek companies contributed to the development of the Serbian economy over the past 20 years and which sectors are they most interested in today?

— Total Greek FDI in Serbia is estimated at around 1.5 billion euros, while direct and indirect investments over the last 20 years exceed 2.5 billion euros. HBA member companies represent Greek economic interests in the broadest sense and are present in almost all sectors: the hotel and construction industries, the cement and sugar industries, the petroleum derivatives sector, the manufacturing of building materials and aluminium profiles, the recycling sector, the food and beverage retail sector, the service sector etc.

What are the most important topics today when it comes to doing business and creating a level playing field on the market?

— The HBA organises various sector- specific training courses, seminars and workshops for employees within its member companies, the topics of which are aligned with current events relevant to the economy, but also regular business operations. Our members consider such events extremely useful, which is why we’ve organised training courses in the previous period that were intended for middle and top management and covered the areas of HR, marketing, tax and accounting topics, inspection oversight and many others.

Total Greek FDI in Serbia is estimated at around 1.5 billion euros, while direct and indirect investments over the last 20 years exceed 2.5 billion euros

We will this month address the topic of amendments to the Decree on Customs Procedures and Customs Formalities through a workshop for the employees of our member companies that we are organising in cooperation with the Serbian Customs Administration, the Belgian-Serbian Business Association, the Croatian Business Club and the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, while this workshop will also enable networking between the members of these four bilateral associations.

How do the HBA and its members contribute to the wider community?

— Over the course of the previous 20 years, our Greek member companies have made numerous donations to healthcare and educational institutions, cultural institutions, churches and monasteries, environmental protection causes and for the empowerment of students and young people. In endeavouring to promote Greek business practices as being socially responsible, the HBA has been organising humanitarian activities for many years, with our humanitarian Christmas dinner standing out as a particularly successful event. We direct the funds collected at this event to one of Serbia’s many humanitarian organisations and last year donated the collected money to the organisation SOS Children’s Villages. Apart from this, and in the scope of promotions of the Greek language and culture, the HBA has for the past three years awarded scholarships to students of the University of Belgrade Faculty Orthodox Theology. Even though the HBA is primarily driven by business interests, strengthening the common cultural and historical heritage of our two peoples and cultures gives a human touch to our activities.

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