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Zsuzsanna Hargitai starts as new EBRD Director for Western Balkans

By Olga Rosca

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Based in Belgrade, she will also head operations in Serbia

Zsuzsanna Hargitai has taken over as the EBRD’s new Director for the Western Balkans. Based in Belgrade, she will also head the Bank’s operations in Serbia where she will succeed Daniel Berg, who is leaving the Bank after almost 25 years of distinguished service.

Ms Hargitai will be introduced to the Serbian authorities including Prime Minister Ana Brnabić by EBRD Vice President Banking, Alain Pilloux, in Belgrade this week.

She said: “I am proud and honoured to take on this new role. My goal will be to further increase our investments and policy reform support in the region in light of the countries’ European Union (EU) perspectives. The EU approximation and accession process is a major reform driver and it also enhances the region’s attractiveness for private sector investments. The EBRD is well-positioned to play an important role in this and we are fully prepared to deliver what is needed in financing and policy advice.”

The EBRD is a leading investor in the six Western Balkans countries: Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with average annual commitments of €1 billion and a leading force in policy engagement. The Bank is supporting private sector development and the transformation towards a green economy. In Serbia, for example, the EBRD last year financed the two largest wind farms in the country Kovacica and Cibuk to date, with a combined capacity of 300 MW.

At the same time the EBRD is also conscious of the remaining needs to improve the infrastructure in the countries to boost regional cooperation and trade as well as the approximation to western Europe and the EU Single Market. The EU is the region’s largest trading partner and also its biggest source of foreign direct investment. Attracting these funds is crucial for the countries’ growth and it also depends on the business environment.

In support of this the EBRD has launched several initiatives such as the business advisory councils in Serbia and FYR Macedonia. Since 2014 the Bank has also been hosting a Western Balkans Investment Summit in London for all six Western Balkans countries every two years.

After meetings with businesses and partners, the EBRD delegation of Vice President Pilloux and Ms Hargitai will travel on to Montenegro, Albania, FYR Macedonia and Kosovo. A visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina will follow at a later stage.

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