Vienna Economic Forum is proud to announce the success of the VEF Cooperation partner Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen AG in the VEF Member country North Macedonia

Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) is pleased to be able to congratulate its Cooperation partner Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen AG and their Board Member, Dr. Georg Bucher, Member of the VEF Board, on the successful completion of the accession of Ohridska banka AD Skopje to the Sparkasse Bank Makedonija AD Skopje.

With total assets of 1.15 billion Euros, Sparkasse Bank Makedonija AD positions itself strongly in the ranking of the major banks in the domestic market - first place in the custodian banks, second place in corporate customers and third in the household segment, and offers its customers attractive products and services, as well as the valuable expertise of Steiermärkische Sparkasse.

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f.l.: Alvin Alicevic, Board Member Sparkasse Bank Makedonija, Gligor Bishev, Chairman of the Board Sparkasse Bank Makedonija, Nina Nedanoska, Board Member Sparkasse Bank Makedonija Georg Bucher, Board Member Steiermärkische Sparkasse und Sanel Kusturica Board Member Sparkasse Bank Makedonija

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The headquarters of Sparkasse Bank Makedonija in the center of Skopje

Fotocredit: Steiermärkische Sparkasse

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Active participation of Vienna Economic Forum at the 24th Eurasian Economic Summit

Upon the invitation of Dr. Akkan Suver, President of Marmara Group's Strategic and Social Research Foundation, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, Secretary General and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum actively participated at the 24th Eurasian Economic Summit which took place online on 8 and 9 July 2021.

Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva spoke on the highly current and important Topic of Energy “Making Energy’s Building Better for the Common Future of Humanity”.

In her speech, Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva expressed her wishes for an improved “international coordinated expansion” and stressed the high importance of utilization of “the current transition period for capacity building and for becoming access to trade excess power from renewable sources”.

Vienna Economic Forum is proud of the long-standing, fruitful cooperation with the Marmara Strategic Group and Social Research Foundation, VEF Strategic partner for many years!

Marmara 24.th Eur.Econ.Summit 08.07.202 Amb.Kirtcheva 1

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Further successful cooperation of EVN AG - VEF Founding member and Cooperation partner

Vienna Economic Forum is pleased to inform about the exemplary teamwork for the energy transition between the Subsidiary Netz NÖ of the VEF- Founding member and Cooperation partner EVN AG and Austrian Power Grid (APG).

The EVN AG Spokesman of the Executive Board, Mag. Stefan Szyszkowitz, Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum, together with the other parties involved, took part in the ceremonial inauguration of the 300-ton APG transformer "Carlo" in the Zaya substation.

Vienna Economic Forum congratulates on this important step towards expanding the electricity infrastructure and is proud of the success of its Cooperation partner EVN.

Click here for the official press release:

EVN VEF Erfolgreiche Cooperation Umspannwerk Zaya

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Vienna Economic Forum is proud to announce the newest edition of Society Magazine.

Society Magazine, led by its Publisher, KR Prof. Mag. Gertrud Tauchhammer is a strong supporter and Media Partner of Vienna Economic Forum!

Society Magazine LINK

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Vienna Economic Forum as co- organizer of a Discussion on the Topic of: “The Security Aspects of Financial Transactions in the Balkan Region”

Vienna Economic Forum, together with Novomatic AG, long-standing Cooperation Partner of Vienna Economic Forum and the Institute for Security Policy (ISP) co- organized a discussion on the important topic of “The Security Aspects of Financial Transactions in the Balkan Region”. The hybrid event held on 17. June 2021 included online participants world-wide and onsite participants at the Headquarters of Novomatic AG in Lower Austria.

The Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, had the honour to welcome the participants deriving from various social spheres among which: Novomatic heads of divisions, technical experts, managing directors, well-known representatives from science, politics, industry, the public sector and the diplomatic corps. She extended her gratitude to be able, along the Director Group Marketing & Communications of Novomatic AG, Mag. Stefan Krenn, LL.M, the Group Security Manager, Dr. Hans-Peter Stückler as moderator of the discussion, the high representative of the Institute for Security Policy, as well as with the speakers - Prof. Dr. Severin Gasser from the Institute for Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Criminology at the University of Innsbruck and Mr. Srecko Latal, Journalist and Regional editor of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, to be part of such an important discussion.

Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva stressed her conviction that: “taking care of all Security Aspects of the Financial Transactions involves two directions: legal and moral duty - from and to the Balkans!” Furthermore she accentuated hew view on this being applicable for all stakeholders Europe- and world- wide, and not for the Balkan Region only. She ended her Welcome address by accentuating the importance of accelerating the international cooperation and coordination!

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All participants onsite and online had the pleasure to hear the knowledgeable views of the key note speakers Ambassador Victor Jackovich, CEO of Jackovich International, USA and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum, as well as Prof. Dr. Milan Parivodic, Parivodic Advokati/Lawyers; Minister of International Economic Relations of Serbia (2004-2007), Honorary Member of Vienna Economic Forum.

During the lively discussion, the audience had the opportunity to hear the many interesting contributions from all of the active participants, who shared their extensive and important knowledge and expertise, having the know-how to discuss the topic oriented towards the Balkan region! During the consequent “Q&A session”, the opportunity was used for short personal exchange of ideas as well.

After the Discussion Mag. Stefan Krenn received the "Decoration of Honour of Vienna Economic Forum" on behalf of Novomatic AG, awarded by Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva, on behalf of the VEF Board for the excellent Cooperation during the many years!





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Working meeting with the Chairman of the Board of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), former Governor Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger at Vienna Economic Forum

On 16 June 2021 the former Governor Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, Chairman of the Board of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) in Salzburg and the Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum (VEF), Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, held a working meeting at the premises of Vienna Economic Forum.
During the intensive exchange of views, topics of mutual interest, as well as potential possibilities for intensifying the cooperation between VEF and IRE were discussed, including the co-organization of future events.

In the light of the many years of excellent cooperation, at the end of their talks, the VEF Secretary General had the honour to award former Governor Univ. Prof. Dr. Schausberger with the "Decoration of Honour of Vienna Economic Forum".

GS Amb. Dr. Kirtcheva Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger Web

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Working meeting with Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Erwin Pröll, former Governor of Lower Austria, Honorary Consul of Slovenia with the Consular District of Lower Austria and Honorary Member of Vienna Economic Forum

The Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva held a working meeting on 11. June 2021 with Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Erwin Pröll, former Governor of Lower Austria, Honorary Consul of Slovenia with the Consular District of Lower Austria and Honorary Member of Vienna Economic Forum.

They talked about an activation and deepening of the mutual cooperation. Details of a potential co-organization of the upcoming 18th Vienna Economic Forum which is to take place on 22. November 2021, together with the Honorary Consulate of Slovenia, were discussed. Both sides welcome such a co-organization, especially since during the second half of 2021 Slovenia will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Additionally, other subject areas for active collaboration have been defined as well.

Amb. Dr. Kirtcheva und LH Dr. Proll

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Vienna Economic Forum Co - organizer of the “Western Balkans Labour Markets Review – Regional Talk Towards EU Accession”

On 10 June 2021, Vienna Economic Forum, together with EastEuroCo Executive Search Group, long-standing Strategic Partner of Vienna Economic Forum, co- organized the “Regional Talk Towards EU Accession-Western Balkans Labour Markets Review”, with the partners on-site in Budapest.

The Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, has had the honour, online from the Vienna Economic Forum premises in Vienna, to open the discussion on this very important topic.

In her Opening Remarks Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva spoke about the necessity for constant growth and adjustment to the changing conditions of the global happenings through the prism of the regional specificity and underlined that: “Only by putting in the efforts, we can assure that the ongoing brain drain process and massive migration for employment purposes will be stopped, thus securing a proper and highly skilled work force on the hand and fair and well paid working environment on the other”. In her greeting words to the EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner, H.E. Mr. Olivér Várhelyi, and to all of the high-ranking online participants and viewers the Secretary General said that: “Vienna Economic Forum was built on a vision, to contribute to the economic cooperation and development of the 13 VEF Member countries as a region that grows together” and only if we follow this vision and put in all of our efforts we can achieve “a social change, a real synergy of employers and employees and courage to see the future of the region and Europe”!

Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva Western Balkans Labour Markets Review Regional Talk Towards EU Accession 10 June 2021

On the topic of Investors’ experiences, among others we had the honour to also hear the experts views of two Board Members of Vienna Economic Forum.

Mr. Wilbert Verheijen, Managing Director, Canon CEE GmbH, Member of the Board of VEF talked about his views of the Western Balkans as a growth opportunity, especially in the developing economies of the countries of the region. He sees the biggest opportunity in the future in what is called digital transformation, i.e. moving the business processes from analogue to digital for which improving the digital skills of the work force from the region would be highly valuable. Canon's philosophy: “living and working together for the common good” is something Mr. Verheijen hopes to be applicable in the countries of the region in terms of not only doing business but also making a positive contribution to the social development in each country where the company is present.

Dr. Stephan Pachinger, LL.M., Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Member of the Board of VEF provided several aspects which based on the experience of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are highly relevant and should ultimately provide means to make sure that any undertaken investment results in the positive expectation associated with it and ensures that the aspirations put into place materialize and are not jeopardised. Dr. Pachinger presented several Considerations for Investors in the Western Balkans and introduced respective areas that are of utmost importance from a legal perspective.

The consequent presentations, contributions and discussions from the high representatives of all of the countries form the Western Balkan region, followed by the most interesting insights offered by the initiator of the online Discussion, host and main organizer from Budapest, Hungary, on this very important topic were very informative and knowledgeable.

Vienna Economic Forum thanks to Mr. Sándor Söpkéz and to EastEuroCo Executive Search Group for the excellent cooperation and co-organization of the online Discussion and for the close and fruitful collaboration over the many years.

The following link provides a direct access to the Western Balkans Labour Markets Review – Regional Talk Towards EU Accession online discussion recorded video:

Please find here the Agenda for the online Discussion.

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Working meeting with H.E. Abat Fayzullaev, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Austria

The Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva on 4. June 2021 met H.E. Mr. Abat Fayzullaev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Austria.

The main topic of the discussion at the Vienna Economic Forum premises were the future steps and developments in the collaboration between Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) and Uzbekistan.

Concrete projects for common collaboration, as well as the possibility for active participation of representatives of the Usbekistan economy in the VEF- Activities, inkl. the potential signing of a Memorandum of Understanding were examined.

S.E. Fayzullaev Usbekische Botschafter


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Vienna Economic Talks

Focus on the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans

The Hybrid Edition of Vienna Economic Talks with the Focus on the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans took place on 19. May 2021, 4:00-5:30 p.m. (CEST/UTC+2) at the Headquarters of A1 Telekom Austria Group.
The exciting discussion led by H.E. Mr. Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, with Prime Minister from the Region – Patron of Vienna Economic Forum and with high representatives of renowned companies, investors and industrialists centred on the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkan countries for the further development of the regional economy, as well as identification and realization of concrete projects and proposals meeting the specific needs of the countries from the Western Balkans.

Vienna Economic Forum is proud to report that over 600 spectators from over 20 countries worldwide watched the live online broadcast of the Vienna Economic Talks and the highly grasping and informative contributions delivered by H.E. Mr. Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, H.E. Mr. Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia and VEF- Patron, Mr. Gašper Dovžan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, on behalf of H.E. Mr. Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia and VEF - Patron, as well as the other high representatives of the economic, energy and legal sectors.

This highly significant topic, especially during present times, when the Western Balkan region is in the focus of the European Union not only from an enlargement perspective, but rather and even more importantly from a economic point of view bearing in mind the importance of revival of the economy in the region, was highlighted by DI Peter Umundum, Member of the Management Board, Parcel & Logistics, Österreichische Post and President of Vienna Economic Forum, as well as Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, Founder, Member of the Board and Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum.

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The Vienna Economic Talks host, Mag. Thomas Arnoldner, CEO of Telekom Austria Group and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum in his statement stressed that it is the A1 Telekom Austria Group’s digital infrastructure and digital tools that allow for this event to be hosted and to reach the world-wide audience even under the current conditions. He furthermore pointed out that Central and Eastern Europe is of particular importance to the Group not only in terms of revenue growth but also in terms of foreign investments in the VEF member countries with over 5 billion Euros direct investment since 2015. Digitalization is more important than ever “digital infrastructure, digitalization is paramount in coping with the crisis, in returning to growth, in safeguarding prosperity, catering for high quality jobs, as well as taking other challenges ahead”. What is of utmost importance to the Group is an investment friendly, regulatory framework in the areas where the company operates.

In her opening speech, the Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva expressed that what brought everyone together was the common goal: “to do our part for a economically better and secure life of the people from the region”. She furthermore highlighted the importance of the Western Balkans region not solely for Europe but for the whole world, especially from a geopolitical point of view. Vienna Economic Forum, being a Pro-European Platform seated in Vienna, is proud to cooperate with the European Commission, the Prime Ministers of the Member countries, Patrons of VEF, as well as with the newly established WB6 CIF.

The President of Vienna Economic Forum, DI Peter Umundum, Member of the Management Board, Parcel & Logistics, Österreichische Post stressed that the main goal of VEF is to connect Europe and to support the business relationship within Europe. Apart from discussing the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, an additional topic of interest and importance is the improvement of the business relationship between the European Union and the Western Balkans thus aiming towards answering: “how can politics and the EU give a framework to support development of the economy in this region” furthermore presenting several examples of members and partners of VEF with business ideas for this region.

The Main Statement, delivered online from Brussels by the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, H.E. Mr. Oliver Várhelyi, conveyed the message that it is in the Union’s best interest to bring the whole region into the EU, stressing the clear objective of the European Commission to accelerate this process, which is clearly already integrated from an economic point of view. In order to facilitate the current economic situation in the region, the EC is applying the same growth strategy developed for the EU also to the Western Balkans “large scale investments”. The Economic and Investment Plan launched in autumn 2020 is the EC’s recovery plan for the WB amounting to 28 billion Euros of funding and leveraging investments in the areas of connectivity of transport, energy, digital and green transition which are to facilitate the process of creating sustainable growth and jobs, thus opening many opportunities for major investments.

The State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Gašper Dovžan, addressed the online and onsite participants from Ljubljana on behalf of H.E. Mr. Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia. In his statement, State Secretary Dovžan focused on three topics: in his general observations on the Western Balkan region and its importance to Slovenia and the EU the State Secretary emphasized that EU’s geopolitical ambitions can only be realized through stable and Europeanized Western Balkans; In reference to the plans of Slovenia during their Presidency with the Council of the European Union in the 2nd half of 2021, State Secretary Dovžan discussed three pillars: giving a boost to a credible EU enlargement process, deepening the economic collaboration in areas of mutual interest and thirdly, Slovenia will offer the EU its know-how and good relationships with the region. Slovenia views the Economic and Investment Plan for the WB as an important and strategic tool in all of its areas. He concluded by promising that the Slovenian presidency will give a high priority to all of the important issues, and the enlargement process and the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan will be given a special place in the Slovenian Agenda during the EU-WB Summit which is to take place in October 2021.

H.E. Mr. Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia and Patron of Vienna Economic Forum in his address online from Skopje primarily stressed his view on the exceptional success that Vienna Economic Forum achieves in its mission to be the point of enhancement of the regional cooperation for the WB countries and South-eastern Europe. Prime Minister Zaev expressed his views in regards to the integration Agenda and the fact that: “North Macedonia has been standing for too long on the doorstep of the EU although it has met all conditions for commencement of the negotiations”. As per His Excellency, the Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) for the WB is of exceptional importance and comes at the right time, time for rehabilitation and renewal and time for adding a new stimulus for a growing economic strengths. The announcement of the Plan added to the impetus to reorganize the economic strategy of the Republic of North Macedonia and the PM Zaev believes that the crisis can be seen as an encouragement for potential and opportunity to improve each country’s domestic economy. He stated that the Western Balkan countries are like an island surrounded by EU countries and there are no other alternatives for the region, other than a full EU integration supported by the fact that the region and the Union already are very closely connected.

Mr. Janez Kopač, Director of the Energy Community Secretariat spoke about the many challenges for the countries from the region in terms of energy transition, on the path of decarbonization to which the EU is committed, followed by the Western Balkan, in which the Republic of North Macedonia seem to be in the forefront from the countries in the region.

The President of Vienna Economic Forum, DI Peter Umundum in his role as the Member of the Management Board, Parcel & Logistics, Österreichische Post stressed that additionally to the Economic and Investment Plan of the EU we need additional business areas for strengthening the relationship within the European Union and the non – EU states, highlighting the area of e-commerce market as one of the areas offering a high and fast growth potential.

In his statement Dr. Gabriel Lansky, Partner, Lansky, Ganzler + partner and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum pointed out that it is now a good moment and opportunity to put the forces into the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The past years have seen enormous progress in the economic and business development, witnessing a widely successful transformation of the region.

Dr. Georg Bucher, Member of the Board, Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen AG, Cooperation Partner of Vienna Economic Forum spoke on three topics: the active and constant presence of Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkasse together with Erste Group since 1997 in the region, the purchase of Ohridska Banka in North Macedonia from Société General and the possibility to maintain and almost finalize the merger on a remote basis thanks to the digital infrastructure, as well as the investment presence of the Bank in the region through active projects, and finally, he spoke about the resilience of the countries in the region and his positive outlook into the future. In terms of the general political remarks, Dr. Bucher believes that the region needs concrete steps, concrete time plans and open communication.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, H.E. Mr. Zoran Zaev made his remarks upon the expressed opinions and experiences as expressed by the other participants. He spoke on concrete projects in the Republic of North Macedonia supported by the EC: gas connection, energy efficiency, waste water treatment station, construction of the railway Corridor 8, establishment of integrated and financially self-sustainable regional waste system, solar photovoltaic and procurement and installation of photovoltaic of 10MV. Finally, Prime Minister Zaev spoke about the privileges and benefits for foreign investors in the country.

Dr. Achim Kaspar, COO, Verbund AG and Vice-President of Vienna Economic Forum spoke about Verbund, the leading Austrian electricity and one of the largest hydro-power producers in Europe with a Green Generation and Agenda for the Western Balkans. Verbund is very much interested in investing in the green future of the region. Mag. Peter Lennkh, Member of the Management Board, Corporate Banking, Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum addressed the involvement of Raiffeisen in the Western Balkans and the future plans for the region, expressing their firm support for the European integration of the WB and their firm commitment to the region. Ambassador Victor Jackovich, President of Jackovich International, USA, Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum stated his views on the rather smooth implementation of the EC Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) and encouraged the EU states and leadership to take on some bold, fast-track steps towards the integration of the Western Balkan countries, furthermore stressing the necessity for a clear road map for the countries from the region with precise milestones. Mr. Mihajlo Vesović, Director of the Sector for Strategic Analysis, Services and Internationalization of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, addressed the participants on behalf of Mr. Marko Čadež, President of the Managing Board of WI6 CIF from Belgrade and addressed the importance of the EU Economic and Investment Plan, especially in the private sector, accentuating on the importance of the offered support by EU on the technical assistance.

Mr. Emmanuel Forest, Member of the EU Mission Board for Climate-neutral and Smart City, Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum took on the challenging role of preparing several summary remarks and addressed the participants from Paris, expressing his hope that by 2050 the Western Balkans cities will join the objective for Climate-neutral, Smart cities.

In her final remarks, Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Kirtcheva expressed her conviction that: “through the prism of the regional specificity, we will be able to do something good for the region”, furthermore emphasizing that without this region Europe is not whole, sending the message that “Europe needs this region, more than this region needs Europe”.

Vienna Economic Forums thanks its members for the constant support, dedication to the cause and the placed trust driving us to grow and broaden our horizons and expand our activities!

The subsequent echo that has reached Vienna Economic Forum so far has been extremely positive and will be published on this website shortly.

Special thanks goes to: A1 Telekom Austria Group, AFRY AF Pöyry, AME International GmbH, Bouygues Europe SA, CANON CEE GmbH, EVN AG, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Jackovich International LLC, LANSKY, GANZGER + Partner, Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, Novomatic AG, Österreichische Post AG, Raiffeisen Bank International, Serbian Association of Economists, Sopharma PLC, The Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Investment Office, Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen AG, Verbund AG, Wien Holding GmbH.

In addition, Vienna Economic Forum would like to thank A1 Telekom Austria Group in particular for their hospitality and strong technical support.

The following link to the VEF Web-site provide a direct access to the Vienna Economic Talks recorded video where all of these very interesting and highly informative statements and contributions are available for viewing:

We have once again had the privilege to be live broadcasted on the European Union's TV information service channel - Europe by Satellite (EbS): 




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Intensive discussions about the future in the premises of Vienna Economic Forum

The Honorary Member of Vienna Economic Forum Dr. Sonja Sagmeister-Brandner, Author and Journalist, ZIB 2, ORF visited on 12 May 2021 the Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva in the premises of Vienna Economic Forum.
In a "tour d‘horizon" many topics about future collaboration were discussed, among which also about geographic growth of Vienna Economic Forum on other continents as well.


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We are proud to inform that Ambassador Victor Jackovich, President of the Jackovich International USA and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum represented Vienna Economic Forum and participated at the United Nations High-Level Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity, held at UN headquarters in New York on 27. April 2021.

On behalf of Vienna Economic Forum, and upon an invitation by the organizer, Ambassador Jackovich stressed that Vienna Economic Forum is a platform where experts from the governments and peoples of Central Europe and Southeast Europe meet to discuss economic and related issues, as well as a platform for implementation of programs developed by the Vienna Economic Forum and by the states with whom VEF directly cooperates. „Some of these activities have been in the field of digital technology and among Vienna Economic Forum members are some of the most prestigious institutions dealing with digital technology in Austria and Europe“, Ambassador Jackovich said.
Ambassador Jackovich posed the following question to be considered by the speakers: “What can be done to protect more vulnerable societies (such as those in Southeast Europe aspiring to European Union membership) from the misuse of digital technology. i.e. the dissemination of false information or purposely misleading data that can have a deleterious impact and greater resonance on the populations of less developed information environments than on those in more developed environments?”

The Debate to follow included the highly valuable and interesting interventions and remarks provided by the high-level participants and experts on the matter including: Volkan Bozkir, President of General Assembly, UN, Munir Akram, President of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of UN, Patrick Gelsinger, CEO Intel, Javier Villamizar, Operating Partner, SoftBank Vision Fund, Solinn Lim, Oxfam Cambodia, Country Director, Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant UN Secretary-General for Policy Coordination, Isabelle Durant, Acting UN Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Jose Ranon Lopez-Portillo, 10 Member Group, Technology Facilitation Mechanism, as well as some thought-provoking UN video presentations.

The importance of the issue – digital cooperation and connectivity – was conveyed by the fact that this was a very high-level conference addressed by several senior level officials of the UN, individual governments, company CEOs and NGOs. The debate was useful in identifying problems, however more attention ought to be paid to providing specific programs and implementable solutions.

Vienna Economic Forum is very proud to have been represented by the VEF Board Member Ambassador Jackovich who used this opportunity to highlight the VEF role from its headquarters in Vienna in supporting the aspirations of the governments and peoples of Central and Southeast Europe for the good development of the regional cooperation.
Among others, Vienna Economic Forum has also been granted the significant Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is constantly being invited to participate in important UN debates, as well as to support further development of the civil society worldwide. VORZIMMER-ZUSTELLUNG:


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Wien, 12. April 2021 – Schon heute bietet die Österreichische Post innovative Lösungen zum Empfang von Sendungen: Ob Post Empfangsbox, Abstellgenehmigung, Abholstationen oder Paketumleitungen – Kund*innen können sich individuell entscheiden. Eine Erstzustellquote von fast 95 Prozent bestätigt den Erfolg des breiten Angebots. Die Unternehmen A1, Nuki Home Solutions und die Post kooperieren und testen eine besondere Zustelllösung für Interessierte: die Vorzimmer-Zustellung.

„Die Österreichische Post ist eine tonangebende Innovationsführerin am europäischen Paketmarkt, wir sind immer am Puls der Zeit und entwickeln neue Lösungen für unsere Kund*innen. Mit der Vorzimmer-Zustellung revolutionieren wir den Zustellprozess, indem wir die Pakete auch bei Abwesenheit der Empfänger*innen in die Wohnung oder das Haus zustellen können. Mit A1 und Nuki Home Solutions haben wir zwei starke Partner*innen gefunden, die uns beim Test dieser neuen Zustelllösung tatkräftig unterstützen werden“, erklärt DI Peter Umundum, Vorstand für Paket & Logistik der Österreichischen Post AG.

PK Vorzimmerzustellung Nuki Post A1

Und so funktioniert es: Die Tür wird mit einem Nuki Smart Lock ausgestattet. Die*der Empfänger*in vergibt der*dem Zusteller*in aktiv eine Berechtigung, mit der die Tür mittels Handheld geöffnet werden kann. Eine Bodenmatte im Vorzimmer markiert den Platz, an dem das Paket abgestellt werden soll. Die Smart Home Geräte von A1 sind optional, Empfänger*innen haben dadurch die Möglichkeit, die Zustellung live oder bis zu 72 Stunden im Nachhinein anzusehen.

„A1 Smart Home vernetzt seit einigen Jahren das zu Hause unserer Kundinnen und Kunden. Mit der Vorzimmer-Zustellung der Post haben wir unser Angebot um ein weiteres Produkt für das tägliche Leben erweitert. Gemeinsam mit diesen starken Partnern haben wir Österreich dadurch noch digitaler gemacht“, so Marcus Grausam, A1 CEO.

„Eine Zukunft ohne physischen Schlüssel war von Beginn an unsere Vision. Nicht nur, weil das praktisch ist, sondern weil wir mit dem virtuellen Schlüssel den Alltag der Nuki User wesentlich erleichtern”, erklärt Martin Pansy, Gründer und CEO von Nuki Home Solutions. “Mit der Vorzimmer-Zustellung macht die Realität einen großen Schritt in Richtung unserer Vision. Gemeinsam mit starken Partnern arbeiten wir daran weitere Mehrwerte für Nuki Besitzer zu generieren.”

Bereits Ende vergangenen Jahres wurden interne Tests durchgeführt, bei der die technische Machbarkeit überprüft und erste Erfahrungen mit der neuen Zustellart gesammelt wurden. Die Rückmeldungen der Tester*innen sowie der Zusteller*innen waren dabei sehr positiv.

Ab sofort haben auch 100 interessierte Kund*innen die Möglichkeit, sich zum Test der neuen Vorzimmer-Zustellung anzumelden. Voraussetzung ist eine Zustelladresse in Wien, Niederösterreich oder Graz sowie die Möglichkeit zur Installation eines Nuki Smart Locks. Eine Bewerbung ist bis zum 23. Mai möglich, Anfang Juni werden die ausgewählten Teilnehmer*innen informiert. Die erforderliche Hardware wird für den Testzeitraum kostenlos zur Verfügung gestellt, vor Beginn der Zustellung gibt es ein persönliches Kennenlernen mit dem*der Zusteller*in, bei dem auch die Berechtigung für das Smart Lock vergeben wird. Der Test selbst findet im Zeitraum Juli bis Dezember statt. Eine Anmeldung ist direkt unter post.at/vorzimmer-zustellung möglich. Die Vorzimmer-Zustellung kann auch mit AllesPost kombiniert werden – damit wird es möglich, dass die Post alle Pakete und Online-Bestellungen direkt ins eigene Vorzimmer liefert. Alle Tester*innen erhalten daher als kleines Dankeschön auch einen Gutschein für ein kostenloses Jahr AllesPost.

Die Vorzimmer-Zustellung findet ausschließlich durch die Stammzusteller*innen statt, Empfänger*innen kennen „ihre“ Zusteller*innen damit persönlich. Die Zusteller*innen läuten vor jedem Betreten an, falls die Empfänger*innen zuhause sein sollten. Sollte eine Vorzimmer-Zustellung nicht möglich sein, kommt der normale Zustellprozess zur Anwendung – also entweder eine Abgabe in einer Post Empfangsbox oder eine Hinterlegung in einer Filiale oder bei einem Post Partner.

Weitere Informationen und technische Voraussetzungen zur Vorzimmer-Zustellung der Post gibt es unter post.at/vorzimmer-zustellung.

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Dear Members of Vienna Economic Forum,

Digitization is entering into all areas of life - including in company training & further education and across all borders. For being well prepared to start off in a hopefully soon again positive economic situation, we offer you, in cooperation with the VEF member bit media e-solutions GmbH from Graz, the opportunity to use numerous e-learning offers free of charge for 6 months.

The e-learning courses can be accessed via the learning portal set up free of charge especially for the Vienna Economic Forum: https://vef.e-learning.cc

The portal is available in German and English. In addition to English and German, e-learning courses are partly also available in other languages such as Romanian, Albanian, and some more.

Within the online course catalog, e-learning courses are available in the following categories:

Attached you will also find an e-learning course overview in PDF format.

For further information, please register directly on our VEF learning portal https://vef.e-learning.cc using the promotion code VEF2021. 

Bit Media e learning Courses

Or contact our colleagues from bit media e-solutions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone +43 (0) 316 286 186 (Monday to Thursday: 8 a.m. - 5.30 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. - 1.30 p.m.).

Enjoy digital learning!

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Annual General Assembly of
Vienna Economic Forum held on 8. March 2021

The Annual General Assembly of Vienna Economic Forum in 2021 took place on 8. March 2021 at the Headquarters of Novomatic AG in Gumpoldskirchen, hosted by the newly elected VEF Vice-President DI Ryszard Presch, Member of the Executive Board, COO of Novomatic AG.  

VEF President DI Peter Umundum, Board member of the Österreichische Post AG opened the Assembly by greeting the present Members and in accordance with the Statute guided through the Agenda. 

In her report on the VEF activities in 2020, the Secretary General, Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva underlined the successful development of Vienna Economic Forum, which was noticeable despite the unusual and very challenging conditions. In reference to the year 2021, as an important topic of the VEF annual planning, she announced the endeavor to continue to organize, in connection with the economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans, Vienna Economic Talks with high-ranking representatives of regional politics and economy in a hybrid form. 

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Fotocredit: SOCIETY/Pobaschnig

The VEF Secretary General addressed all those in attendance and extended her gratitude that, even under the conditions of the digital present, they are relying on the networking potential of Vienna and driving Vienna Economic Forum forward with their visions.  

The VEF President DI Peter Umundum informed about the admission of new VEF Members at the Board meeting held on 15. February 2021, as follows: 

As members – legal entities: 

- Canon Austria GmbH 

- Chamber of Economy of Montenegro 

As a member - natural person: 

- Mr. Emanuel Forest, Member of the EU Mission Board for Climate-neutral and Smart City 

The new VEF members were unanimously welcomed by the General assembly. 

Furthermore, the general assembly unanimously reached the following decisions: 

- DI Ryszard Presch, Board member of Novomatic AG was co-opted as Board member and Vice-President of Vienna Economic Forum; 

- Mr. Vlastimir Golubović, President of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, was elected Board member of Vienna Economic Forum; 

The following were appointed as members of the Patrons Committee of Vienna Economic Forum: 

      - H.E. Mr. Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of North Macedonia 

      - H.E. Dr. Zoran Tegeltija, Prime Minister of Bosna and Herzegovina 

      - H.E. Mr. Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine 

      - H.E. Mr. Zdravko Krivokapić, Prime Minister of Montenegro 

Honorary membership in the Honorary Committee of Vienna Economic Forum was awarded to the following persons: 

      - Ambassador Vasilka Poposka Trenevska, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics and former Ambassador of the Republic of North Macedonia in the Republic of Austria 

      - Mr. Ahmet Mesut Ersoy, former Managing director, Denizbank AG and former VEF Board member 

     - Dr. Ernst Huber, former Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ) 

After a few brief addresses, the VEF President DI Peter Umundum expressed his gratitude and closed the General Assembly. 

Following, Novomatic AG, together with the new Vice-President of Vienna Economic Forum, invited to a small reception. 

The team of Vienna Economic Forum thanks all Members for the constant support of the numerous VEF activities in 2020. The trust placed in us motivates us to conquer new horizons!  


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Vienna Economic Forum congratulates its Cooperation partner Novomatic AG

Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) is pleased to announce that Novomatic AG has received the highest distinction in two categories as part of the most important awards of the Latin America gaming industry - the SAGSE Awards 2020 in Buenos Aires.

VEF congratulates the cooperation partner Novomatic AG on this important recognition and wishes them many more business successes as one of the market-leading global corporations. 


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Annual Board meeting of Vienna Economic Forum on 15. February 2021  

The annual Board meeting of Vienna Economic Forum in 2021 took place on 15. February at the Headquarters of the Österreichische Post in Vienna, hosted by VEF President DI Peter Umundum, Board Member responsible for Parcel & Logistics at the Österreichische Post AG.  

In accordance to the Statute, the VEF President guided through the Agenda, while the Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva reported on the VEF activities in a globally challenging, yet successful year 2020 for Vienna Economic Forum.  

Both the VEF office relocation in March 2020 in the Ambassadors district, in Prinz-Eugen Strasse 58, in the 4th district of Vienna, as well as the Summer Cocktail in a Small Setting organized instead of the 19th Traditional Garden Party with the participation of Ambassadors from the Member countries and VEF Board members, were accentuated. 

The VEF Secretary General particularly emphasized the great online success of the 17th Vienna Economic Forum - Vienna Future Dialoque 2020 that managed to reach over 1200 viewers from 32 countries.  

Deepest gratitude for his and the significant support provided by the Österreichische Post AG was expressed to VEF President DI Peter Umundum.  

The subsequent discussion led to the conclusion that it is now more important than ever to build bridges out of barriers, especially in times of restrictions. In this respect the Board members attached great importance to the advantages of digitalization. Therefore, it is to be expected that Vienna Economic Forum, as THE European Economic Platform based in Vienna, is to once again have a stronger hybrid/online presence in 2021.

The Board unanimously accepted the admission of new VEF members – as Cooperation partners, as Members-Legal entities, Members-Natural persons and Honorary members.

Furthermore, it was accepted that the agreed changes in the Board, the election, deselection and co-opting of Board members, as well as updates in the Patrons and Honour committees be proposed for a decision to the General assembly.

The Annual General Assembly of Vienna Economic Forum will take place on 8. March 2021 at the Headquarters of Novomatic AG, Wiener Straße 158, 2352 Gumpoldskirchen.  

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Strong financial year in a challenging environment for the VEF Cooperation Partner A1 Telekom Austria Group  

Vienna Economic Forum is proud with the result of A1 Telekom Austria Group in the challenging environment of 2020. 

Mag. Thomas Arnoldner, CEO of A1 Telekom Austria Group, and Member of the VEF Board emphasized that:  

"The operational and financial performance of A1 Telekom Austria Group in the financial year 2020 was significantly impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. The results reflect the resilience of our business model and the positive impact of the measures taken in this challenging environment. 

The Group continued to deliver a strong operational performance for the full year 2020 despite the operating environment. Revenues decreased slightly by 0.3%, while service revenues remained stable despite roaming losses and negative foreign exchange effects. Excluding foreign exchange and one-off effects, total revenues grew by 1.5%. Group EBITDA increased by 1.0%. The net result for 2020 was EUR 388.8 million, above the 2019 result. 

We continue to benefit from our operational strength, efficiency and solid capital structure. We have succeeded in consistently reducing debt in recent years. In Austria alone, we again invested EUR 456.4 million, making us the largest investor in digital infrastructure. The strongly growing demand for high-performance networks requires more investments and continuous expansion. This is only possible with investment-friendly framework conditions. At the same time, these investments would also be a multiplier to grow out of the current crisis, increase innovative strength and secure long-term competitive advantages for Austria in global competition. 

CEE markets showed solid overall operational performance in 2020 due to fixed line growth and strong demand for mobile WiFi routers.  

We wish our VEF founding member A1 Telekom Austria Group further significant successes both in Austria as well as in the VEF Member countries and are looking forward to an excellent collaboration in the many years to come.  


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NOVOMATIC Interactive division Greentube acquires esports platform provider HERO

Vienna Economic Forum is pleased to inform about another success of the Cooperation partner Novomatic AG and its subsidiary Greentube.

In a move that will see Greentube enter the esports sphere, the NOVOMATIC Interactive division has acquired esports betting provider and blockchain pioneer HERO.

Austria-based HERO was founded with an aim to disrupt the online betting industry through its blockchain-powered esports platform herosphere.gg, which allows players to create their own contests and compete against each other on the outcome of games.

The platform now has a user base of over 300.000 players. As well as esports, the HEROnetwork is designed to be used for any kind of pooling, betting, fantasy, or poker systems.

The acquisition will see Greentube venture into the esports and blockchain sphere for the first time and will significantly diversify the supplier’s wide product offering.

Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube, said: “At Greentube, we aim to hold a leading position when it comes to adopting new trends and technology, and with HERO’s unique products, we have acquired an innovative and exciting business that will see us move into uncharted territory. The esports and blockchain space offers a lot of possibility for the gaming sector and will open up new doors for us as a company. We are excited to explore the possibilities that lie ahead together with HERO.”

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Members of the board of Vienna Economic Forum – among the best crisis managers in the service industry  

Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) is proud to be able to congratulate the VEF President DI Peter Umundum,  Member of the Board, responsible for Parcel & Logistics at the Österreichische Post AG, and VEF Board Member, Mag. Thomas Arnoldner, CEO of A1 Telekom Austria Group AG, on their TOP classification in the current “LEADERSNET” ranking of the best crisis managers in Austria in the most challenging year in recent world history. 

By maintaining the quality assurance when shipping around 165 million parcels last year, DI Peter Umundum took the second place in the ranking, while Mag. Thomas Arnoldner took fifth place in the "Service" category.  

At the end of 2020, 23,000 opinion leaders from Austria's business network platform and an eleven-member expert jury ranked the 300 best managers in the time of crisis.  

Vienna Economic Forum is pleased to have some of the TOP managers on board as President and Board Member and wishes them continued success! 

Mr. Peter Umundum

Mr. Arnoldner