Kirill Kravchenko’s Interview for Deutsche Welle

April 10, 2013

The biggest investor in Serbia - NIS, owned by the Russian Gazprom Neft, announces business expansion and sends a message that many might get surprised by the fast development of the Western Balkans region. In the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer of Naftna industrija Srbije (NIS), Mr. Kirill Kravchenko, the region of the Western Balkans is one of the most interesting regions for development and investment in the field of energy, agriculture and infrastructure. The company dubbed the biggest investor in Serbia, owned by Gazrpom Neft, announces the increase of three billion euro in investments in the years to come. In his interview with DW Mr. Kravchenko says that many people might get surprised by the fast development in the Balkans: “It is important to attract additional investments. Investments can do a lot. We want to help the region recover and resolve economy-related issues. This will not be easy. There will be lots of work to do, but the region’s potential makes it one of the most favourable regions for development in the future.” Work More and Harder From investors’ point of view, the region’s potential and attractive taxation policies are the benefits of the Western Balkans, Kravchenko says. Can this region, described as a battlefield for strategic interests of the East and the West, benefit from its position in terms of business? “The East and the West could harmonise their business interests in the Balkans,” says Kravchenko, “Now is the moment when Serbia plays a balanced political game, trying to attract investors from all over the globe. This is the best way to recover the region in the current financial crisis." Having regard to cultural and historical connections, the Balkan nations are more inclined to certain countries, but the criteria are different in business and in politics. After the most successful year in company history, NIS claims that the success story includes three protagonists: people, technology and investments. When asked about business obstacles in the Balkans, Mr. Kravchenko says: "I don't see major obstacles. The financial crisis in general impacts the consumption and the purchasing power, but the case is the same in Europe. I see no specific obstacles. Hard work is required. If you want to make money, you need to work. Not just to work enough, but to work more and harder." Investments Can Do A Lot Since every economic crisis impacts political affairs, an economic recovery might affect a political stability. NIS CEO and Gazprom Neft Deputy CEO for Foreign Asset Management claim that besides the economic recovery, the Western Balkans will be politically stable with improved inter-country relations. Mr. Kravchenko says that the European integration process and application of EU standards are additional stability factors. Gazprom Neft believes that the Western Balkans is one of the most favourable regions for development “This is good, because the European Union has major experience in investor relations. Harmonisations of laws with EU practice is generally good for investors; this creates a predictable and open business environment, and I believe that this strategic paths is good”; says Kravchenko. NIS business network is expanding to the region. There are two ways of development – oil and gas exploration and expansion of the petrol station network. This year, first oil and gas exploration drilling operations are expected in the Republika Srpska. There are plans for expanding NIS and Gazprom petrol station network in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “Regional competition is strong. It is even stronger in the oil and gas sector. If you want to be successful, you need to find something you do better than the others,” says Kravchenko.