EBRD annual meeting – great opportunity for Belgrade and Serbia-Montenegro

Serbian Minister of Finance Mladjan Dinkic said today that the Annual Meeting and Business Forum of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), to be held in Belgrade between May 21 and 23, 2005, will be a great opportunity for Serbia-Montenegro as well as for the entire Balkans to attract foreign investment.

Dinkic told a press conference that Belgrade has not seen a business conference of such significance in 30 years, since a World Bank meeting. He stressed that Serbia has to seize this opportunity, as, for three days in May next year, Belgrade will be the world’s financial centre.

Dinkic said that the countries in the region must insist on creation of the largest possible single market in this part of the world, since they are not strong enough individually. A single Balkan market would comprise around 60 million people, enough to attract substantial foreign investment, according to Dinkic

He expressed conviction that Belgrade will be a good host and announced a lot of rebuilding for that occasion, including a reconstruction of the Belgrade airport.

The EBRD annual meeting will be held in the Sava Centre, Belgrade’s largest conference hall, and is expected to gather around 2,500 participants including political and business leaders from across the region.

EBRD Secretary General Johnny Akerholm said that the meeting will have two parts: the first to adopt the EBRD’s annual report and the second will be a business forum with the aim of introducing potential investors to certain countries.

Akerholm confirmed that regional seminars will be held as a run-up to the annual meeting in Belgrade.

The first of these will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, in ten days, with a focus on municipal development in the Balkan countries. The second one will deal with transportation and will be held in Sarajevo in December.

The third seminar will be held in February next year in the Albanian capital Tirana, with a focus on energy, and the fourth one, scheduled for March 2005, will take place Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, to discuss small and medium sized business in the Balkans.

Mayor Nenad Bogdanovic said Belgrade will have an opportunity to promote its tourist offer during the EBRD meeting, recalling also that Serbia’s capital will also host European championships in basketball and volleyball in 2005.