The magazine fDi, published by London's Financial Times recently nominated Serbia's capital as one of its European Cities of the Future for 2006-2007.
By Georgi Mitev-Shantek for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 21/04/06
"The city is continuing to work on creating the necessary conditions for the coming of foreign capital," said Belgrade Mayor Nenad Bogdanović. [Getty Images]
fDi magazine, a subsidiary of the Financial Times recently announced the first round of nominations for its 2006-2007 European Cities of the Future list. Belgrade was the choice in the "Southeast Europe/Southeast Central Europe" category.
Elaborating on the pick, the magazine cited economic growth and a rising investor interest.
"Serbia's economy grew at 8.6 per cent in 2004 and GDP growth is expected to exceed 6 per cent in 2005," it said. "Total investment in Serbia in 2005 is estimated to be 1.65 billion euros and significant recent investors include Italy's Banca Intesa, US company Ball Packaging and Germany's Metro Cash & Carry. Metro's facility in Belgrade was the largest greenfield investment in Southeast Europe in 2004."
"In addition, Microsoft has established its first software development centre in Southeast Europe in Belgrade," fDi noted.
According to Belgrade Mayor Nenad Bogdanovic, the recognition will help spur additional new investments and job openings, which will in turn create better conditions for life in the Serbian capital.
"What needs to happen in Belgrade and in Serbia is that foreign capital needs to start coming in with increased celerity. Without that there are no new job openings and no new programmes. There is a lack of money in the country, and the money is with foreign investors, and that is the reason why we need them. The city is continuing to work on creating the necessary conditions for the coming of foreign capital," Bogdanovic said.
In the past several years, Belgrade has undergone significant development. Considerable funds have been invested not just in the building of commercial centres and market chains, but also in the refurbishment of old and the construction of new infrastructure, from power, water and sewage to roads.
Since the toppling of the Milosevic regime in 2000, salaries have increased by several times, while a 15 per cent increase in employment has brought the work force back to the level of the pre-war year 1990.
In 2000, Belgrade earned about 10m euros from the rental of municipal construction land for development, while this year the figure is ten times higher. Investments to prepare construction land for development are planned in the corridor of the Pan-European Corridor 10, which passes through the city, along with investments in the development of the Sava and Danube riverfront, which is part of Corridor 7.
Bogdanovic estimates that by 2009, Belgrade can expect up to 1.5m square metres of commercial and residential property to be constructed. The current average monthly salary of 288 euros is expected to increase to 500 euros, while the workforce is expected to grow by 15 per cent from the current 620,000.
Besides Belgrade, the fDi list also recognised Baku, Barcelona, Berlin, Brno, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Manisa, Paris, Vienna, Vilnius, and Zurich.