Thursday 3 February 2005
KATHIMERINI (English Edition)
Conference to Highlight Serbia’s Business Scope
According to Serbia’s ambassador to Athens, Dusan Batakovic, the Greek-Serbian and Montenegrin Partnership Initiative Conference and Exhibition — to be held from February 8 to 10 at the Athens Hilton — is of “crucial importance.”
Batakovic yesterday invited Greek entrepreneurs to invest in his country and promised that the conference next week “will highlight the opportunities and scope of an emerging and attractive market in the Balkans.” He also underscored the already significant presence Greek companies have in Serbia and Montenegro.
As many as 200 Greek companies are active in Serbia and Montenegro, investing 900 million euros, led by the banking sector with the National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Eurobank, as well as Hellenic Petroleum, the Hellenic Sugar Industry (EBZ), Chipita, Delta and others.
Alexander Karadjordjevic (of the royal family of Serbia), who is among the conference’s organizers through the humanitarian organization “Lifeline,” gave a brief account of the reasons that make investing in his country attractive: With the lowest corporate tax in Europe, the high percentage of English-speakers, a high specialization of workers, the low labor costs and the strategic location of the country at the heart of the western Balkans.
He also stressed that Serbia and Montenegro is the sole country outside the Commonwealth of Independent States to have a free-trade agreement with Russia, offering unhindered access to a market of 150 million people. He finally noted that his country enjoyed an 8 percent growth rate in 2004, while the rate expected for this year is 4.6 percent.
Asked whether Kosovo is a destabilizing factor, both men replied that investments are fully secured and are not affected.
Opening the event will be Serbia President Boris Tadic and Greek Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki. Participants will include the Greek ministers of development, Dimitris Sioufas, of interior, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, of tourism, Dimitris Avramopoulos, of Macedonia and Thrace, Nikos Tsiartsionis, and the deputy ministers, of the economy, Christos Folias, and of foreign affairs, Evripidis Stylianidis.
The International Herald Tribune is among the event’s sponsors of communication. For more information on the conference log on to www.partnershipinitiative.gr
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