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The unique hybrid "Special Edition of the 17th Vienna Economic Forum - Vienna Future Dialogue 2020" took place on 16. November under the challenging circumstances of 2020. The President of Vienna Economic Forum, DI Peter Umundum, Board Member "Paket & Logistics" of Österreichische Post AG and the Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva invited to an exciting online discussion under the motto “90 minutes with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel” with the aim to take into consideration the highly prevailing topics of the "new types of mobility in a digital world" and the "challenges and opportunities for the regional economy" from the perspective of high-ranking political and economic representatives from the VEF member countries. 

Vienna Economic Forum is delighted to announce that more than 1200 viewers from 32 countries worldwide were able to watch the live online broadcast of the main interactive discussion of EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, with portfolio for research, innovation, education, culture and youth, with H.E. Avdullah Hoti, Prime Minister of Kosovo, H.E. Denys Schmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, H.E. Fatmir Bytyqi, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, and Dr. Lilyana Pavlova, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB). 

In her opening speech, the Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva pointed out the currency of the topics of the 17th Vienna Economic Forum by highlighting the role of youth in our digital future. In addition, she turned to the political leaders from the member countries of Vienna Economic Forum to be aware of both the challenges, but also the new opportunities, by striving now more than ever to balance public and private interests as the most important condition for good economic development. 

After the greetings from DI Peter Umundum, President of Vienna Economic Forum and Peter Lennkh, Board Member "Corporate Banking" of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) and Member of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum, the head of Raiffeisen Research, Gunter Deuber, presented the input report "Regional Economy at the Crossroads? Recipes for a sustainable rebound and the next leg of convergence" from the perspective of the banking and finance sector, which points out that the investment prospects for the countries of Southeast Europe related to a successful economic transition are tied to certain conditionalities, but are actually very good.

Emphasizing the key role of the "triangle of knowledge: research, innovation and education" and the physical and digital mobility within that triangle, both for a growth-oriented economic transition and for the prosperity of young people, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel made aware of the importance of their recent flagship communications: European Education Area, European Digital Education Action Plan, European Research Area. In this regard, further thematic examples for a number of current initiatives by the European Commission were additionally explained.

On the subject of physical mobility, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel emphasized the need to use sustainable and smart alternatives in the automotive sector and beyond. COVID-19 has made the importance of digital mobility clear to us. We have to drive the digital transformation we are in at the moment together. This will help enormously in bridging the convergence gap between the regions in the future.

With a view to young people, we should pay attention to both physical and virtual mobility. They should be promoted in a way that is most beneficial in reference to the advantages from the traditional and the new types of mobility. Similarly, it is a priority to win the trust of the citizens on the way to the so-called "European green transition" by clearly communicating the predominant advantages of this process.

Prime Minister H. E. Avdullah Hoti has made it clear that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, a large part of his government's efforts on the activities of regional integration contained in the EU agenda with a special focus on the regional economic area in the form of a single market for the Western Balkans countries (WB6) have been aligned. Furthermore, the process of market economy integration promotes the political integration of the entire region, which is why Kosovo has called for strong economic cooperation.

Ukraine's Prime Minister H.E. Denys Schmyhal described "COVID-19 as a global challenge and yet also an opportunity for developing new types of cooperation". The deepening of the political association with the EU and an ever tighter economic integration with closer access to the European internal market are of the highest priority for Ukraine. The country is in favor of new and strong EU initiatives for economic recovery after the pandemic and in this sense sees the EU's "green" course as not just another policy, but rather a new reality. In terms of economic cooperation, Ukraine is very much oriented towards the following sectors: critical raw materials, energetics, digitization and agriculture, said Prime Minister Schmyhal.

The Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Dr. Lilyana Pavlova underlined the EIB's support for the countries of the Western Balkan as part of the European COVID-19 response package with 1.7 billionEUR. At the same time she emphasized that a number of regional projects worth 2.3 billion EUR are already available for financing. For several of these, the EIB is not limited to co-financing only, but offers valuable technical and advisory support as well. In addition to the EC's convergence instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III) worth 9 billion EUR, the EIB is working with a guarantee mechanism to increase the region's investment capacity with the potential to generate up to 20 billion EUR in funds. As "the EU's green bank", the EIB provides targeted funding to strongly support the region's "green" transition to a more connected, inclusive and sustainable economic model. Environmentally friendly energy generation, environmental protection, digitization, connectivity and natural disaster protection were particularly mentioned as financing areas.

For his part, the Vice-Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, H.E. Fatmir Bytyqi, placed great emphasis on the planning and preparation of the region for the post-COVID period. The pandemic has made us face the regional problems that we have neglected for so long. In this regard, he has called for openness to cooperation with the aim of moving to a regional single market that will create "a region of competitiveness rather than competition". The acceleration of digitization processes, the establishment of resistant value chains, more intensive innovation and research investments, but also the targeted addressing of climate change through public and private investments are the driving forces that will take our economy to the next level.

The central discussion of the 17th Vienna Economic Forum was summarized by the VEF Board member and President of Jackovich International LLC, USA, Ambassador Victor Jackovich, member of the VEF Board, whereby he described as essential that Vienna Economic Forum remains at the forefront, and, despite the many challenges facing the Southeastern Europe region, continues to support the implementation of the initiatives discussed.

In the continued discussion with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and with the Vice-President of the EIB, Dr. Lilyana Pavlova, the Members of the Board of Vienna Economic Forum, Dr. Achim Kaspar, Member of the Board of VERBUND AG, Vice President of Vienna Economic Forum, and the Members of the VEF Board, Mr. Wilbert Verheijen, Managing Director, CANON CEE GmbH, Dr. Emmanuel Forest, CEO, BOUYGUES Europe SA, Belgium, and Mr. Furkan Karayaka, on behalf of Mr. Ahmet Daglioglu, President, Presidency of the Investment Office of the Republic of Turkey took active participation.

As the host in the Trumpet Hall at the Headquarters of Österreichische Post AG, the President of Vienna Economic Forum, DI Peter Umundum, summarized and extended appreciation: "In such special times we must not lose sight of the essentials. It was therefore important to me that we with the this year's edition of Vienna Economic Forum shed light on the latest developments in the digital world and their effects on economy and politics. With Vienna Economic Forum we have an excellent platform to bring regional and digital closer together ".

The Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva emphasized that: "The decision of the VEF Board to organize the 17th Vienna Economic Forum under the motto '90 minutes with the European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has a very strong symbolic meaning. In her portfolio Commissioner Gabriel is also responsible for the topic Youth, and we all know: The future is digital! And the youth is the future! 

The traditional annual award ceremony "Partner of the Year 2020" followed at the end of the Special online edition of this year's 17th Vienna Economic Forum - Vienna Future Dialogue 2020. As announced by the Secretary General of Vienna Economic Forum Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva in the online live broadcast, Ms. Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Education, Culture and Youth, was able to physically hold the "Partner of the year 2020" award thousands of kilometers away and to express her gratitude for the high VEF award with an emotional speech. 

The subsequent echo has been extremely positive and will be published on this website shortly

Vienna Economic Forum thanks all members, partners and friends for the permanent and constant support which drives us to achieve bigger goals and to broaden our horizons!

Special thanks goes to: A1 Telekom Austria Group, AME International GmbH, Bouygues Europe SA, CANON CEE GmbH, DenizBank AG, Ecolog International FZE, EVN AG, Flughafen Wien, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, HYPO NOE Landesbank, Jackovich International LLC, LANSKY, GANZGER + Partner, Novomatic AG, Österreichische Post AG, Penkov, Markov & Partner, International Law Firm, Raiffeisen Bank International, Serbian Association of Economists, Sopharma PLC, The Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Investment Office, Verbund AG, Wiener Börse AG, Wien Holding GmbH.

In addition, Vienna Economic Forum would like to thank Österreichische Post AG in particular for their hospitality and strong technical support.

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Monday, 16 November 2020, 11:00-13:00 (CET)

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Vienna Economic Forum has completed a “summer cocktail in a small setting” instead of the 19th traditional garden party “Culinary and musical journey through the member countries”.

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Family photo (f.l.t.r.): First row: Dr. h.c. Ivo Ivanovski, M.Sc, Board Member A1 Telekom Austria Group; Dr. Wolfgang Pospischil, CEO, Pöyry Management Consulting Austria GmbH; Dr. Achim Kaspar, COO, Verbund AG, VEF -Vizepräsident ; H. E. Mag. Ksenija Škrilec, Botschafterin von Slowenien; DI Peter Umundum, VEF- President; Amb. Dr. Elena Kirtcheva, VEF – Secretary General; Mag. Harald Neumann, Advisor Novomatic AG, VEF – Vice-President: Mag. Heinz Messinger, Managing Director AME International GmbH, VEF- Financial Officer and Vice-President; Second row: H. E. Bogdan Mazuru, Ambassador of Romania; H.E. Victor Osipov, Ambassador of Moldova; H.E. Lulzim Pllana, Ambassador of Kosovo; H.E. Dr. Ivan Sirakov, Ambassador of Bulgaria; Mr. Vadym Kovalevskyi, Minister – counsellor, Embassy of Ukrain; Dr. Stephan Pachinger, Partner, Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, VEF- Board Member.


On June 19, 2020, VEF President DI Peter Umundum, Board Member for Paket & Logistik at Österreichische Post AG and VEF Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva organized a “Summer Cocktail in a Small Setting” instead of the 19th Traditional Garden Party “Culinary and Musical Journey through the Member States”.

The invited guests, the ambassadors of the VEF member countries, members of the ambassador committee of the Vienna Economic Forum and members of the VEF board accepted the invitation and discussed the overall economic situation in the region as well as in the unique trumpet hall at the headquarters of Austrian Post exchanged the further active development of regional cooperation.

In her opening words, the Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Elena Kirtcheva talked about the origin and the 18-year history of the traditional VEF garden party, this beloved summer event of all member countries of the Vienna Economic Forum and invited everyone to the next anniversary garden party in June 2021.

VEF President DI Peter Umundum emphasized: “Especially in such challenging times, we must not neglect the mutual exchange, it needs a lively exchange and a closer cooperation, just as the Vienna Economic Forum has been implementing since its foundation. The reception was not only used for face-to-face discussions, but we were also able to discuss the further path and the direction of the forum.

All participants really enjoyed the “little surprise of a musical journey” portrayed by Wladigeroff BrothersH.E. Victor Osipov, Ambassador of Moldova, took the opportunity to say goodbye to his Ambassadors and to VEF representatives for the end of his mandate in Austria and expressed his gratitude for the excellent cooperation with Vienna Economic Forum.

The host and VEF President DI Peter Umundum invited everyone to the “culinary journey”, which ended the event in a friendly and wonderful atmosphere.

As a nice reminder, all guests received a valid Austrian Post AG stamp with their own photo on it produced on site.

In addition to the information material from Österreichische Post AG, the new VEF brochure Review 2019 / Preview 2020 was handed out to guests.

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Fotocredit: SOCIETY/Pobaschnig

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On behalf of the Board of Vienna Economic forum and together with Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors, Members of the Ambassador Committee of Vienna Economic Forum, we would like to inform all our Members, Partners and Friends, that the 19th Traditional Garden Party „Culinary and musical journey through the member countries of Vienna Economic Forum”, planned for 19th of June 2020, must be postponed due to the regulations enforced upon the current quarantine circumstances.    

We would be delighted to once again welcome all of you to our mutual, traditional and pleasant summer event on Friday, 18th of June 2021!

We wish you and your Family to “Stay healthy!” and we are hopeful and impatient, looking forward to the next Vienna Economic Forum Garden Party Summer 2021!