50 most powerful foreigners in Serbia

Blic daily has polled political analysts, economists, media professionals and NGOs to compile the list of the most powerful foreigners in Serbia in 2023.

Here is the result…

  1. Christopher Hill – the United States of America’s Ambassador to Serbia

Christopher Hill, the current ambassador of the United States of America, is an experienced American diplomat and a great connoisseur of Serbia and the entire region. He returned to our country for the third time in 2022. In the 1960s, he attended school in Belgrade as the son of a diplomat and in the 1980s, he started his diplomatic career here as a member of Richard Holbrooke’s team which led to the signing of the Dayton Agreement. He also played a significant role during the Rambouillet negotiations in 1999. The third return to Belgrade followed at the end of March 2022, when he was appointed as the new US ambassador to Serbia, succeeding Anthony Godfrey in that position.

  1. Anke Konrad – the German ambassador to Serbia

Anke Konrad is an experienced diplomat and the current German Ambassador to Serbia. She started her career in the German Foreign Ministry in 1993 and served abroad in Warsaw, Geneva, Abidjan and Lusaka. Ambassador Konrad speaks Russian and Polish fluently and is currently learning Serbian. She grew up in East Germany.

         3. Kirill Vladimirovich Tyurdenev – CEO of NIS

Tyurdenev is the CEO of the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS). He holds a Master’s degree in international law from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). From 2000 to 2007, Mr Tyurdenev worked for A.T. Kearney, Unilever and McKinsey & Co. From 2007 to 2012, he worked as Deputy Director-General for Strategy and Business Development at SIBUR. Since 2012, he has been Executive Vice Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of AFK Sistema. In April 2016, he took up a position in NIS in Novi Sad.

  1. Emanuele Giaufret – head of the Delegation of the EU to Serbia

Ambassador and head of the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia. He assumed this post after four years of service as EU Ambassador to Israel. Prior to that, he was Head of the Department for Democracy and Election Observation and Political Assistant to the Director General for North Africa and the Middle East at the European External Action Service.

  1. Emil Tedeschi – CEO of Atlantic Group

Founder and majority owner of the Atlantic Group. He also worked for the National Parliamentary Commission for the Monitoring of Accession Negotiations. He was also actively involved in the process of bringing Croatia closer to the EU In January 2021. His company, Atlantic Group, owns Soko Stark, Grand Prom and Foodland in Serbia. In the first half of 2021, Atlantic Group recorded sales revenue in the amount of 359.7 million euros, which is an increase of 9.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

  1. Jiri Marek – CEO of Air Serbia

Jiri Marek was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Air Serbia in January 2022. Marek joined Air Serbia in July 2019 to lead the Commercial and Strategy department during the airline’s ambitious growth plan to become the leading regional carrier in the Balkan region. Under his leadership, network expansion and commercial transformation delivered record-breaking results. Before joining Air Serbia, Marek held a senior management position in the strategy department at Alitalia.

  1. Li Ming – Chinese Ambassador to Serbia

The new Chinese ambassador to Serbia, Li Ming, took office in October, and he previously served in the Solomon Islands, the strategically important Pacific region.

  1. Eduardo Bombieri – Deputy Chairman of Banca Intesa’s Board of Directors

Bombieri joined Banca Intesa as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors. In addition to heading the Financial Management and Risk Management Division, his responsibilities include the management of security and business continuity, as well as the management of strategic projects. He graduated in economics from the Catholic University of Milan, as well as the prestigious University of Lausanne (HEC).

  1. Svetoslav Atanasov – CEO of Coca-Cola HBC for Serbia and Montenegro

Atanasov came to Serbia in 2018 as CEO of Coca-Cola HBC Serbia and Montenegro, one of the 10 largest companies in the domestic market and a leader in the FMCG sector. Together with his team, he created a unique 24/7 consumption concept, achieving excellent business results with the implementation of major local initiatives, including the acquisition of the Serbian food producer Bambi in 2019.

  1. Aleksandr Botsan Kharchenko – Russian Ambassador to Serbia

Botsan-Kharchenko speaks fluent Serbian and is considered an excellent analyst and negotiator. He has been a member of Moscow’s delegations in various Balkan negotiations. Mr Botsan-Kharchenko has also been a long-term representative of Russia in the Contact Group and, together with US and EU diplomats, a representative in the mediation to resolve the Kosovo status issue.

  1. Urs Schmidt – Swiss Ambassador to Serbia

Urs Schmid is a career diplomat. Prior to taking up his current position in Belgrade, he served as ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Tajikistan, resident in Nur-Sultan from August 2016 to August 2020. He previously served as the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Conference on Disarmament and as Deputy Head of Mission of the Permanent Representation of Switzerland to the Office of the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, from September 2012 to July 2016.

  1. Dr Ronald Zeeliger – CEO of Hemofarm Grupa

CEO of Hemofarm Group, the leading player in the pharmaceutical industry in Serbia and one of the biggest players in the West Balkan. Hemofarm is a part of the STADA group and was e.g. awarded the best Serbian exporting company award, best CSR-company award, Superbrand award and many others. 

  1. Chen Yinghe – CEO of Serbia Zijin Mining

Mr Yinghe helms the company that is the biggest exporter in Serbia.  The state’s strategic partnership with Zijin Mining Group has changed the economic environment of Eastern Serbia, bearing in mind that the company employs about 7,000 workers and that the average salaries in the company are significantly above the national average.

  1. Mike Michel – CEO of Yettel Serbia

Mike Michel is the CEO of Yettel Serbia (formerly Telenor Serbia) and the President of the Foreign Investors Council. He assumed the position of CEO of the company on October 8, 2018. Prior to joining the company, he held the position of Marketing Executive at Banglalink, a telecommunications company in Bangladesh. Also, Michel was the Executive Director of Marketing at Yettel Hungary, (formerly Telenor Hungary), and Vice President of Brand Management at Telenor Group in Norway.

  1. Dejan Turk – CEO of A1 Telekom Serbia

Dejan Turk joined the A1 Telekom Austria Group in August 2004 as the head of marketing and sales at Si.mobil (now A1 Slovenia). He held the position of President of the Si.mobil Board of Directors from 2007 to 2014, when he moved to Vip Mobile (now A1 Serbia) to the position of CEO.

  1. Sihai Song – Executive Director of Hesteel Serbia

Mr. Song has been Executive Director of the Ironworks in Smederevo, which operates under Hesteel Serbia, since its takeover by this Chinese investor. The projected production capacity of the factory is 2.2 million tonnes of finished products per year. They employ more than 5,000 people.

  1. Alexei Muratov – CEO of Yugorosgaz

Mr Muratov is an experienced General Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the oil & energy industry who is skilled in Management, Oil & Gas, Joint Ventures, Pipelines, and Private Equity. He graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), Business School.

  1. Udo Eichlinger – CEO of Siemens Serbia

After spending over 20 years in executive positions in Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Montenegro, Mr Eichlinger is considered an expert in Western Balkan, maintaining access to relevant decision-makers.

  1. Donal McGettingan – Head of the IMF mission in Serbia

Donal McGettigan has been IMF Mission Chief for Serbia since December 2022, having previously been mission chief for Turkey. He is also currently the mission chief for Slovenia. In addition, he has been deeply involved in the Fund’s policy work and in Fund finances over the course of his Fund career.

  1. Arnaud Guyon – Head of the Directorate for Cooperation with Serbian Diaspora

Mr Guyon is the director of the Directorate for Cooperation with Diaspora and Serbs in the region. He was born in Grenoble. At the age of 22, he earned a master’s degree in environmental protection engineering. He attended the master’s degree studies in political science at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.

  1. Pierre Cochard – French Ambassador to Serbia

Mr Cochard studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (IEP), Paris, and France’s National Administration School (ENA – École nationale d’administration), completing his studies in 1989. Prior to arriving in Belgrade, from January 2020 to November 2021, he served as Foreign Affairs Inspector General at the General Inspectorate of the French MFA. A Married father of three, Ambassador Cochard holds the title of Minister Plenipotentiary, 1st class, and – in addition to his native French – speaks English and Persian.

  1. Giampierro Romano – Head of NATO Military Liaison Office for Serbia

Brigadier General Romano graduated from the Italian Military Academy in Modena in 1989. In 1999 he attended the Scuola di Guerra, the Italian equivalent of the Staff College and the Istituto Superiore di Stato Maggiore Interforze, the Italian equivalent of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, in 2003. Throughout his military career, Brigadier General Romano has served three tours of duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina in NATO and EU Operations. He holds a degree in Strategic Sciences and three Master degrees: International Strategic Studies, Strategic Studies and Geopolitics in the Mediterranean area.

  1. Francois Berisot – Director of Nikola Tesla Airport

François Berisot is a highly qualified airport professional with over 20 years of international experience in the airport industry, covering operations management, commercial and market development, infrastructure renewal and expansion, strategic planning, finance and construction.

  1. Milorad Krstikeski – Director of British-American Tobacco in Serbia and Montenegro

British American Tobacco appointed Mr Krstikeski as a new director for Serbia and Montenegro on 1st January 2019. He has abundant experience in the tobacco industry, which is of great importance for the continued operation of the multinational company BAT, which is also the largest UK investor in Serbia.

  1. Matteo Colangeli – Head of EBRD’s Office in Serbia

An Italian national, Mr Colangeli joined the EBRD in 2005 as a banker in London. He went on to regional banker roles in Ukraine and Bulgaria, especially in the field of energy, before being appointed Head of Albania in 2016. Mr Colangeli holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

  1. Dirk Gerkens – Member of the Board of Directors of United Media

Mr Gerkens is a television professional with over 25 years of experience. He joined United Media as a Board member and Director for Programming, Production and Advertising Sales. Mr. Gerkens was CEO of RTL Klub and TV2 in Hungary.

  1. Luca Gori – Italian Ambassador to Serbia

Mr Gori was born in Florence where he graduated in political science from the University of Florence in 1993. He began his diplomatic career in 1995. After a period spent in the Directorate General for Political Affairs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 1999 he began his first engagement abroad at the Italian Embassy in Moscow. In 2003, he joined the Permanent Representation of Italy to the European Union in Brussels, where he monitored relations between the EU and the Western Balkans.

  1. Edward Ferguson – the British Ambassador to Serbia

Mr Ferguson took over as His Majesty’s Ambassador to Serbia in July 2023. Before coming to Belgrade, Edward he served as the Minister Counsellor Defence at the British Embassy in Washington DC in September 2018.

  1. Ricardo Vian Marques – CEO of Galenika

In 2020, Mr Marques was appointed CEO of one of the biggest Serbian pharmaceutical companies, Galenika, after the company was sold to NC Group, one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in Latin America. Mr. Marques comes from a pharma background with 15 years of experience in NC Group where he had held several positions and had been responsible for different areas of corporate business.

  1. Ekaterina Egorova – General Manager of IKEA Southeast Europe

Ms Egorova took the position of General Manager of IKEA Southeast Europe (Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine) on 1st September, 2021. She has amassed great experience working for IKEA since first joining the company in Russia, in 1998. She performed various functions in the Russian market, including the role of store manager, before transferring to the UK and taking on the function of market manager for the territory of the northern UK and Ireland.

The list also includes (in the ranking order from 31st to 50th place) Alexander Markus, Head of the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Pavel Erankevich, CEO of Carlsberg Serbia, Stefan Voros, CEO of Star Import (distributer of Mercedes-Benz vehicles), Lev Weiss, CEO of BIG CEE, Richard Kohli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office at Swiss Embassy in Serbia, Jozsef Magyar, Hungarian Ambassador to Serbia, Akira Imamura, Japanese Ambassador to Serbia, Deyana Kostadinova, Head of UNICEF Serbia, Kristin Melsom, Norwegian Ambassador to Serbia, Marko Marin, Technical Director of FC Red Star from Belgrade, Giovanni Guidetti, Coach of the Serbian Women’s National Volleyball Team, Nicola Pontara, Head of the World Bank Office in Serbia, Francoise Jacob, UN Permanent Coordinator in Serbia, Ioannis Sfairopoulos, Coach of BC Red Star, Park Yong Hwan, CEO of Yura Corporation Serbia, Kevin Xavier Punter, Captain of BC Partizan Belgrade, Simon Franco, Executive Director of BASF Serbia, Francesco Masci, Chairman of DDOR’s Executive Board, Fabio Scano, Head of WHO’s Office in Serbia and Uroš Bregar, Coach of the Serbian Women’s National Handball Team.

(Blic, 19.02.2024)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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