07. 06. 2013

Viloeta Bulc: My vision for the Region: We hold multinational inspiration in our hearts. My mission for the Region: West Balkans Region – the model of emerging thriving societies

As a person who grew up in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, I often reflect what we have learned and experienced with the disintegration of our former country. I am not nostalgic or emotionally blocked due to the dismantling of a political entity. Quite the opposite, this experience has provided me a very rich pool of understandings, lessons, and wisdoms. These are some of the learning:

– I realised quite some time ago that society is a dynamic structure that is constantly changing, adapting and transforming. It is permanently transitioning between order and disorder (thus, the challenges of the European Union are quite familiar to me). They are typical for an attempt of trying to unite diversity into a federation, and to draw up political borders. Such attempts – in their endeavour to establish control cover the driving forces of integration – fail to appreciate that the essence of any integration, which lies in the understanding of the need for it, and creating an added value from it. Added value that must be shared among the partners driving such development,
At the times of rapid change, diversity and infinite possibilities, it is important to maintain an inner balance. To be able to collect our thoughts, focus and to know what we want.; to recognise our inherent structures that enable us to hear, see, feel and seize opportunities that suit us most. Opportunities, which in a world of infinite possibilities help us realise goals that exhilarate us and bring joy and a deeper meaning to our existence. This is valid for everyone – individuals, organisations, communities, partnerships, networks, regions and continents.
It is a fact, confirmed by lessons of our history, but is also evident in the opportunities of today.
– it is clear and natural that public administrations and governments are also living organisms striving for growth and sustainable development. Unfortunately, at this point most of the European countries and communities are like adolescents who want to learn everything by themselves,
– history is a good source of knowledge, but not something we can live on. We need to act every day, generate value over and over again, and adjust accordingly.
Summit100, a meeting of South-eastern European business leaders is a unique concept developed by the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM), Croatian Employers’ Association (CEA) and the Slovenian “Manager “ Association which represents a strong cohesive force in the future economic integration in the region and a concrete contribution of top managers to intensified economic cooperation and improved competitive position of business in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. More…
In the light of the above, a meeting of business leaders from the Western Balkans at the end of May in Montenegro was truly refreshing. Serbians, Slovenians, Bosnians, Hercegovinians, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Croatians shared a venue bursting with constructive energy. Inquisitive, exciting, optimistic and joyful attendants broke through the glass ceiling of tragedy and gloom of our recent past. We should never forget the past. It should always remind us of the threat of destruction, hatred, pain and cold-heartedness. However, we should ensure that it remains what it is – a memory.

“This region is without a doubt a key region for Slovenia for most of our investments are within it (70% of all Slovenian investments in 2011) and a key partner in terms of trade, second only to the EU. All our major companies are present in this region, while small and medium-size companies that are focusing on market niches are also increasing their presence significantly
Stanko Stepišnik, Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the RS, Summit100, Montenegro 2013
Because, life is inviting us all into a creative process. Into cooperation and joint creation of the present and the future. We realized that together we can obtain business that can create sufficient added value to ensure a development and prosperity of the Region, and that for achieving it, we do not need a political frameworks.

While it was encouraging to see and hear Western Balkans’ political leaders sharing roundtable thoughts on prosperity of the Region, this also provided us with a confirmation that without a solid economy, this Region has no actual significance in the global community.
Mr. Petrovič, what inspired you to launch the Summit100 event?
Integration is a precondition for growth, which is the primary motive of Summit100, a forum of regional business leaders. Individually, each of the countries in this region is small and almost insignificant with respect to the global market. Foreign investors require economy of scale in order to restore investment activities that are needed by the region. Integration turns our countries into a territory of 22 million inhabitants and it is up to us to win big projects and business deals. More…

Personally, I came to the following additional conclusions:
certain markets outside the dominance of the Anglo-Saxon influence are contributing significantly to the new economic map of the world: Russia, parts of the Middle East, Africa, and SE Europe,
the Balkans has the potential for growth within at least two basic business models: (1) a model that is based on transit(telecommunications, energy, traffic, etc.) and (2) a model that is based on systemic approaches in relationships with key customers (construction, agriculture, tourism, banking, areas requiring dynamic, educated and multilingual professionals, etc.),
our shared history in the Balkans has built invisible bonds among people that hold great potentials for creativity and success based on economic needs and market opportunities. Our strength is in our incredible adaptability, resourcefulness, professionalism and sincere desire to improve our lives. Our hugs have remained sincere, hearty and they still hold a sense of familiarity, safety and trust. Thedepth of the Slavic soul, its exceptional intuition, passion and empathy are the qualities of the new evolving societies. Therefore, it’s time for partnerships in the Balkans, based on economic interests and business excellence,
in a global economy the key to success lies in weak networks and partnerships based on market needs, specific projects, complementing abilities and simple desire for business success and establishing prosperity for people and communities.
This region that lived in a strongly tied common country for several decades and consequently developed inter-compatible and complementing competencies and capacities, which is partly still valid today. We have to learn how to open the region among and to ourselves. This will enable us a stronger position at the European and global levels. 2. Summit100, a meeting of business leaders from SE Europe last week lay and built on important foundations. Our priority now is to focus on innovative concepts and realisation of specific partnerships, e.g. in construction, which is already in a process of integration under the scope of Feniks, but also in infrastructure and energy tourism.
Iztok Seljak, MSc, Chairman of the Management Board, Hidria

Our artists, sportsmen and scientists constantly prove to us, that our way of thinking and working can be exceptionally successful. It is time that our businesses also start manifesting this potential. Feniks – as the first network arising from the Summit100 – is already paving an optimistic path for economic integration in the Western Balkans. May there be many other economic ties in the future. The time is right. The time is NOW.
The Feniks International Construction Consortium, established at the end of January 2012 in Belgrade, unites 45 excellent Slovenian, Serbian and Bosnian companies with an annual turnover of EUR 5 billion and over 30,000 employees. This project was initiated by PSP Farman from Serbia and Hydria from Slovenia. Last year, this consortium of initially only Slovenian and Serbian companies was joined by companies from Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the recent Summit100, the consortium was joined by important partners from Montenegro. The key aim of this project is a joint appearance on third markets (particularly in Russia, broader Eastern and South-eastern Europe and Middle East).
The Feniks project carries great potential for the entire region, which is also reflected in the unreserved support it received from government representatives from all participating countries.. Within the first year of Feniks’ operation several companies participated in the Russian projects executed by Feniks’ Serbian partners, particularly in the construction of universities and hotels in Sochi and of a science and research centre Skolkovo in Moscow. In its second year Feniks will be conducting serious negotiations for project in Northern Africa and Middle East. Another success that needs to be mentioned is the project of building a new CSKA stadium in Moscow which will be used for the 2018 football world cup. The project worth over EUR 160 million was won by PSP Farman
“Neither the Devil nor the Church, the nation will write its own judgement,” wrote Ivan Cankar, one of the greatest Slovenian writers, a man of global dimensions who was thoroughly critical towards the Slovenian soul, who was constantly provoking and holding a self-reflecting mirror up to our nation. We need to see inside ourselves to understand who we truly are. To be able to constantly seek new opportunities for improvements and progress based on our own identities.

I am proud of my nation and the region where I grew up, and from where I am successfully engaging in the world from. I am proud of the experiences and the way of thinking of my Region. I derive my strength from my personal and the geographical transformation and the constant progress.

I know we can do it! Slovenia, West Balkans, the broader Balkans and SE Europe. However, if we don’t act, all we will have is potential. I’d like to thank the organisers for the invitation. Thank you for the opportunity for highlighting the role that media, innovation communication and innovation journalism could play in the Western Balkans’ breakthrough on global markets. I hope our spark will keep shining and our abilities will grow strong wings to be able to fly.
Viloeta Bulc is wner and founder of Vibacom Ltd. (, expert on balanced sustainable development strategies, organic growth and innovation ecosystems. She believes in the power of networks, holistic individual, and positive energy.

Viloeta Bulc