“The vaccination campaign attracted international attention, notably after Serbia offered unreserved vaccines for foreign citizens, especially for those from the WB region. It’s worth extending a helping hand to others in a difficult situation. All this strongly resonated in Italy,” Mr. Marchegiani said in an interview for Agenzia Nova, which we have published on the D&C website.
“The inoculation campaign started as quickly as it could while economic activities continued. This is a game that Serbia decided to play against Covid-19 to prepare for the post-pandemic future. In this challenge, even Italian businesspeople have a chance to invest,” according to Giorgio Marchegiani, president of the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and CEO of DDOR Osiguranje, part of the Italian group Unipol.
Marchegiani, who was recently awarded the Order of the Star of Italy by Italian Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Carlo Lo Cascio, distinguished himself during his seven-year stay in Serbia, and was a nominee for the Order for his participation in the activities of Sistema Italia in Serbia, his contribution to promoting Italian economic interests, but also as a leading figure in managing an Italian company in Serbia. From the position of president of the organization which gathers over 150 Italian companies in Serbia, Mr. Marchegiani sees Serbia’s winning formula not only in a successful vaccination campaign but also in the country’s good geographical location and the potential of some key economic sectors.
“What Serbia did was a smart move and from a foreign policy point of view, it reflects the fact that Serbia has done a good job of procuring vaccines. Serbia has faced emergencies in a balanced way, aware that with an economy based on production, exports and foreign investments, a longer lockdown than the one implemented would be catastrophic,” Mr. Marchegiani added. “Serbia is a traditional investment destination for Italian companies, and our bilateral economic relations have a long tradition. It is interesting to see that in the last 15 years, Italians are still coming to Serbia to invest, but now more in the field of services or renewable energy. Cities like Novi Sad are considered the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Southeast Europe, and the Italians have noticed that. The topic of environmental protection, water and waste is currently very important in Serbia, as the country must meet the Western European standards, and that implies competencies in which Italian companies are very strong which creates new opportunities for investing in that segment,” Mr. Marchegiani went on to say.
The Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce is a starting point for anyone who wants to get information about specific investment opportunities, but the association is part of the wider Italian system, reminds Mr. Marchegiani. “We Italians have great strength, but I would like to remind you that real strength lies in unity. That is why the Italian system is a topic that I spontaneously insisted on as soon as I arrived in Serbia. Italy is a very strong and very welcome partner here. There are about 1,600 registered Italian companies in Serbia that directly employ 35,000 people, and indirectly more than 50,000. In addition to these companies, there is a system of institutions starting with the Italian Embassy, which plays a fundamental role with extremely capable people dealing with the economic sector. Then there is our Chamber of Commerce, ICE and Confindustria Serbia. Last but not least, there is the Italian Culture Institute because we must always keep in mind that strong economic links are not enough. You cannot help but love Italy, and Serbs show this sentiment, also because of the way of life and culture,” Mr. Marchegiani said. It was exactly this vision and promotion of the Italian system that contributed to the President of the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and CEO of DDOR receiving the Order of the Star of Italy.
When asked how much did the arrival of a group like Unipol influence this decision, Mr. Marchegiani had no doubts. “It is also an honour for Unipol in a certain sense. My group sent me here. I have dedicated myself to a company that fortunately is constantly improving its results, showing its strength and a truly positive image. Furthermore, I also dedicated part of my time to the Chamber, the Italian system and this country,” said Mr. Marchegiani, who is also the only foreign member of the Serbian Association of Economists. Values such as personal curiosity for the host country and advancing Italy’s historical and artistic heritage, have contributed to him being a nominee for the Order.