Constantine Alexander, who is President Emeritus and original founder of the Balkan Economic Forum, began his investment banking career in California as a Merrill Lynch Financial Consultant and thereafter became Managing Director of H. J. Meyers & Co. Inc., Member of the New York Stock Exchange until 1991 when he returned to his native Europe where he served as a consultant to the Commission of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Thereafter, he served as an economic development consultant to members of the European agricultural industry as well as Hellenic Municipalities. His civic activities include community service as Founder and Director of the Council of European-American Chambers of Commerce; President of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in California; Board of Directors Member of the Los Angeles Axios Foundation; and Co-Founder and Advisory Committee Member of the Los Angeles Rainbow PUSH Coalition. In 2013, he was selected as a member of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. His articles and photographs have been published in nine countries, and he has been interviewed by television and radio journalists from six countries.
In the autumn of 2014 when I launched the Balkan Economic Forum LinkedIn Group, I was amazed at the overwhelmingly favourable response that I received from people around the world who share my passionate interest in nurturing and showcasing the very best that our Balkan heritage has to offer throughout the 11 Balkan countries, where cultural richness and ethnic diversity serve as a fertile landscape in which, together, we can cultivate our inherent growth potential.
In just the first few months, as more than 3,400 individuals and organisations with Balkan origins and/or interests who are based in 94 countries eagerly joined our group, the highly educated and motivated talent that emerged became readily apparent. As a result, in 2015 my partner and I decided to establish the Balkan Economic Forum as a non-profit association and launch the NGO with an international conference in Athens, Greece, in order to harness this talent by convening Balkan as well as global industry leaders, government officials and academicians to solve problems, support regional student education, and raise awareness of Balkan contributions to the wider world.
As a result of the 2015 conference, the Balkan Economic Forum received widespread support that led to an expanded Board of Directors who welcomed Dr. Sasho Kjosev as their newly elected Chairman, a new base of operations in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and an exciting agenda that will enable the Balkan Economic Forum to move forward on the wings of dreams that can only be realised with a continuing collaborative commitment to achieve what is well within our reach.
Constantine Alexander (20 September 2016)
As soon as the idea of starting the Balkan Economic Forum came to mind and before I did anything else, I knew the first question that had to be asked was “Who are we really – I mean, those of us in theBalkans?” And to answer that question, one cannot overlook geo-political and socio-economic history that is embedded not only in the sands of time, but in the ghosts of the past and the hearts of the living.
One must begin there in order for anyone, myself included, to understand the essence of who we are, what we have to offer, and what we aspire to achieve – despite our differences and because of our shared dreams. And in launching the BEF, of course, one must endeavour to convey these observations and sentiments to others through words, photos and videos in a meaningful way that reflects our efforts, our undertakings and our accomplishments.
After thoughtful reflection upon this and other questions, my co-founder and I sat down, beginning with a blank page, and wrote the BEF website based on what we have seen and experienced first hand in the Balkans, what we have learned, and what we believe can be realistically achieved.
Through our research, we discovered amazing features about our region, such as 5 specialty tourism types enjoyed by many of the 105 million annual visitors to the Balkans; a collective regional workforce annually generating $1.46 trillion in GDP; the surprising pecuniary value of our natural resources as reflected in the professional field of Ecological Economics (which assesses the annual US$142.7 trillion economic value of global natural ecosystem goods and services, such as insect pollination valued at $190 billion to the agricultural industry while up to 50% of the US$1.1 trillion pharmaceutical market is derived from genetic resources); our pivotal position and collective participation in key European and Eurasian energy development projects such as the EU Southern Gas Corridor Initiative as part of theBalkan energy strategies to expand our energy supplies and support further economic development; and much, much more. So, we decided to share these and other noteworthy features in our website.
As we published the website and launched our NGO activities with our personal resources, we were heartened by the warm public response that we received … just as we were also amused by the behaviour of an unforgettable few, such as a group of foreign “emissaries” who arrived at our first conference completely undeterred by their uninvited or unregistered status while monitoring more than just the speakers and the drinks table.
Now, as Dr. Sasho Kjosev, our new BEF Chairman of the Board, assumes his position this autumn, the BEF website along with the social networking accounts (Facebook and Twitter) will be turned over to him for his exclusive management, while I will continue in my original role with the BEF LinkedIn Group that I launched in 2014.
As to the future, I hope that there are those, like me, whose respect for the region continues to reach new heights as our website and social media discourse facilitate a better understanding about the many things that we in the Balkans have to offer and, equally as important, about what we need to do to propel ourselves to a more connected and prosperous future.
Candice J. Alexander, who is Vice-President Emeritus and original founder of the Balkan Economic Forum, earned her Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business Administration and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Following employment at Xerox corporation while earning her MBA degree and thereafter in the investment division of Pacific Life in Newport Beach, California, she earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree at Western State University in California which included law school academic credits for the Juris Doctor earned at Cambridge University in England. As an attorney, she practiced business law in California before moving to Europe as a partner in a business consultancy firm based in France that specialised in the establishment of joint venture partnerships, including collaboration between European Union and Eastern European partners with financial institutional support from sources including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. As part of her wildlife and natural resource conservation interests in Europe, she served as a co-founder of an environmental conservation NGO, a co-founder of and regular volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation centre, and a contributor to the procurement and implementation of two European Commission LIFE-Nature projects in Greece.
Alec Mally is currently Director for Global Economic Affairs at Foresight Strategy and Communications, an Athens-based consulting firm, Director at the Institute for Regional Dialogue and Strategy (IPEDIS), a local think tank, as well as Director at the Repower Greece public diplomacy initiative. He is also Chair of Democrats Abroad Greece and a Board member of the new firm Blue White Capital LLC, which invests in as well as advises on climate-friendly ventures. Since the onset of the Greek economic crisis, he has also been an international media commentator on a range of Greek economic issues. Prior to moving back to Greece, he was a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 27 years, with a range of assignments in Balkan and global affairs. In this region, he served as U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo. Stateside, he served as Economic Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, as the State Department’s Senior Desk Officer for Greece and as Regional Economic Officer for Southeastern Europe (during the Bosnian War). Mr. Mally had prior postings in Bucharest, Warsaw, Athens, Manila and the State Department Secretariat, primarily focused on economic and regional issues.
Dr. Ante Babic is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for International Development Ltd. which was established in 2008 and serves as an adviser to private firms as well as banks on macro-economic, sectoral and currency analyses as well as forecasts for the South-East European region. He is also the Founder and President of ZelenJava.org, which is an organisation promoting sustainable development and green economic business, and he is the Founder, Developer and Manager of Project EUforija which is a series of monthly one-day conferences with EU experts for the benefit of Croatian entrepreneurs. He earned his Ph.D. at the Faculty of Economics at theUniversity of Zagreb after which he continued his education under a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard University in the Department of Economics specialising in macro-economics and international economics. Dr. Babic, who speaks twelve languages, began his career as Head of Unit for Balance of Payments and Exchange Rate at the Croatian National Bank during which time he served as a Research Assistant to a Research Fellow at the Economics Institute Zagreb. In 2004, he became the State Secretary for Development Strategy in the Croatian Government and Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of Croatia. Thereafter, he was the Founder and CEO of Sigma Consulting Croatia for three years. He has served as Founder and Vice President of the Croatian Exporters Association, Secretary General of the Foreign Investors’ Council Croatia, and Consultant to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Euromoney, USAID and other international institutions. He is the author of articles and books published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)/European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Zagreb Journal of Economics, Croatian Economic Survey, USAID (re: the ESP Project in Croatia), Center for International Development Ltd., and the Foreign Investors’ Council of Croatia.
Dr. Sasho Kjosev, who is President of the Balkan Economic Forum, is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Economics at the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. Since April 2016, he is also serving a 4 year tenure as Independent Member of the Supervisory Board of Stopanska Banka, AD Skopje, member of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) group. From December 2014 through April 2016, he served as an independent, non-executive member of the Board of Directors at the Central Securities Depository AD Skopje. He earned his PhD at the Faculty of Economics in Skopje following his dissertation entitled “Application of the Social Accounting Matrix with special reference to the Republic of Macedonia”. His professional career includes: Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1996-1998), World Bank in Skopje (1997-1998), the National Bank (1998) and the Faculty of Economics since September 1998. He participated in more than 30 EU, UNDP and World Bank funded projects in the country, including the preparation of the National Development Strategy and National Sustainable Development Strategy for Macedonia. He authored 7 books and more than 60 articles published in domestic and international journals and conference Proceedings. His professional interests include: macroeconomic (development) planning, development planning techniques, national accounting, sustainable development, regional and local economic development, labour economics and agricultural policy.
Nina Mojsova Kjoseva, who is a founder and serves as a member of the Board of Directors, has professional experience of 14 years, out of which 8 years in the pharmaceutical industry and 6 years in the banking industry, where she currently works in SPARKASSE BANK MAKEDONIJA AD SKOPJE, member of the SteiermarkischeSparkasse Group. She completed her undergraduate and Master studies (Master thesis entitled: “Funds Transfer Pricing in Banking“) at the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, Faculty of Economics in Skopje. She attended many training seminars, conferences and has published academic papers related to financial system and macroeconomics. She is currently enrolled at the PhD program at the Cracow University of Economics in Poland, doing research in the field of financial stability, financial cycle, sovereign risk and macro-prudent policy in the SEE countries.
Dr. Goran Petrevski was born in 1970 in Ohrid, Macedonia. In 1993 he graduated from the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Faculty of Economics in Skopje. In 1998 he obtained his MSc. degree from the same institution with a thesis on Capital markets in transition economies. In 2004, he defended his Ph.D dissertation on: Monetary policy in a small open economy – The case of Macedonia. His academic career began in 1995 at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality in Ohrid, Macedonia, where he worked as a teaching and research assistant. Since 2003, he has been with the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Faculty of Economics in Skopje teaching several courses at undergraduate and postgraduate studies, such as: Monetary Economics, Bank Management, International Finance and Risk Management in Financial Institutions. Also, during 2009-2010, he served as a Vice-Dean for Education of the Faculty of Economics in Skopje. From 2006 to 2013 he was a member of the Council of the National Bank of Macedonia. Professor Petrevski’s research interest covers the following areas: Monetary policy, Banking, International Finance, Fiscal Policy etc. He is the author of two books: Monetary Policy – Theory and the Macedonia’s Experience (2005), and Bank Management (2008). Also, he has contributed in several books. Finally, he has published in a number of Macedonian and international academic journals, annuals, bulletins and conference proceedings.