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The Balkan Talks

The Balkan Talks

By Western Balkans Business Group
Sanir Pasalic and Sandro Slijepcevic are the hosts of The Balkan Talks podcast, where they talk about developments in the fields of news and business related to the Western Balkans region.

Guests are regularly invited to talk about their experiences with the Western Balkans. By sharing insight and knowledge, we hope that our listeners will learn something about the Western Balkans region and will be motivated to do their own further research for business or other cooperations. Follow us on Instagram (@wbbgofficial), LinkedIn (Western Balkans Business Group) or on Facebook (WBBusinessGroup)!
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S2E15: The Power of Education
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, Nelson Mandela famously said. But what happens when education is used to deepen divisions within countries and between people? Education in the Western Balkans is in need of important reforms, and we need to talk about this. We discuss what is currently happening with the educational system in the region, and what our own experiences and benefits have been from going through the system of formal (and informal) education here in the Netherlands. 
52:45
December 9, 2020
S2E14: Real Estate in the Western Balkans
Have we not all dreamed of owning real estate on the Croatian Riviera, or somewhere in the Bosnian wilderness? But where to start, and what are the advantages or disadvantages of looking for property in the various Western Balkan countries? Don't worry, we got you! Sanir and Sandro give you an analysis of the real estate markets in all the Western Balkan countries, and what places are especially of interest with regards to investments. Remember to always consult with people or companies who are familiar with the local real estate situation before you start venturing in the region yourself. 
55:28
November 25, 2020
S2E13: What Does Yugonostalgia Even Mean?
Everybody with some kind of relationship to the Western Balkans has encountered it: Yugonostalgia. A fascinating phenomenon found among younger and older generations of Western Balkan people, and something that has been debated often. But what does the term even mean? Do people still identify as Yugoslavs, and why do they do so? Sanir and Sandro discuss their opinions on the matter, and try to put this complicated feeling into words. Was everything really better in the good old times, or should we put off those rose-coloured glasses and see Yugoslavia for what it really was? We would love to hear from you on this topic, so please let us know your opinions through social media! 
56:23
November 11, 2020
S2E12: Trump vs. Biden and the Western Balkans
What has the US presidency done for the Western Balkan region the past 4 years? Would a re-election of Donald Trump be the best outcome for the region, of would they be better off with a Biden-led administration? The upcoming US election will have an impact all over the world, and not the least in the Western Balkans. We analyse what has happened the last few years with regards to US-Western Balkans relations and the geopolitical game that surrounds the region. There are important differences between both presidential candidates when it comes to their Western Balkan-policy (or lack thereof), and believe it or not, Donald Trump and Joe Biden both have their own history related to the Balkans. 
55:41
October 28, 2020
S2E11: Business in BiH, the US and NL with Sanin Saracevic
What does your path look like when you make your way from Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, and wind up building and scaling a successful IT company in the United States 20 years later? What are the lessons learned from that process and what do you have to keep in mind when you want to do international business? Sanin Saracevic, CEO of Maestral Solutions takes us through the years and tells his story as a successful entrepreneur. Having built his company in the US and now settling in the Netherlands, he is somebody who showed that everything is possible if you are willing to work for it and persevere. 
54:41
October 14, 2020
S2E10: What's Happening in Serbia?
A lot has been happening in Serbia over the last few weeks. Protests have made a big impact on the country, and are exposing underlying problems in the relationship between citizens and government. These problems are seen in more countries around the Western Balkans, and now it is putting Serbia at a crossroads. Sanir and Sandro discuss the recent events and what they mean for Serbia. What does the future look like for the country, and what direction will the government take the coming months and years? This and more in the last episode before our summer break!
54:55
July 15, 2020
S2E9: The Position of Women with Marjolein Koster
Does being a woman in the Western Balkans differ fundamentally from other developed countries? What is there to say about the position of women in the region, and how has this developed over time? In this episode, we invited Marjolein Koster, a freelance journalist who often reports on the region to talk about her views on these topics and her experiences in the region. Bringing a balanced and unique perspective to the table, Marjolein walks us through the way she has gotten to know the region and how this has impacted her as a woman, but also as a journalist and as a non-native who regularly visits the region. 
01:01:53
July 1, 2020
S2E8: Renewable Energy in the Western Balkans
Renewable energy is the future! Why are the Western Balkans seen as the potential battery of Europe, and why is the renewable energy sector one of the most promising sectors in the region? Sanir and Sandro talk about the current state of the sector, and all the opportunities that exist within the sector with regards to hydroelectric, wind and solar energy. They also take the time to answer questions from you, the listeners, again. Keep sending in your questions and you will get a reply from Sanir and Sandro in another episode of The Balkan Talks!
01:02:15
June 17, 2020
S2E7: Destination Bosnia and Herzegovina with Vildan Korjenic
What are our favourite places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why should you consider the country for your next visit in the Western Balkans? If you like active vacations or if you would like an unique culture to immerse yourself in, then look towards Bosnia and Herzegovina for your next trip! We invited Vildan Korjenić from Dit Is Bosniē (This Is Bosnia) and Dit Is Bosnië TV to tell us about why he believes everybody should visit this beautiful country, and why he started promoting Bosnia and Herzegovina with his popular online channel. Please let us know your favourite spots in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we might include them in our next episode!
57:10
June 3, 2020
S2E6: Reputation of the Western Balkans
How does reputation affect your relations with others? What influences reputation? What does this mean for the nations of the Western Balkans? And why is Aleksandar Vucic featured on a Chinese poster? All of these questions are answered in our sixth podcast of this season, where we dive into the dynamics and details of reputation, popularity and how these could potentially affect your success in the world. Of course we examine the Balkan nations in particular.
57:44
May 20, 2020
S2E5: Society and the Coronavirus
The world has been put under the spell of the coronavirus. Our lives have been put to a grinding halt as we are collectively fighting the virus. But what are the mid- to long-term effects awaiting us when this is all over? What will it mean for the world and society as a whole. What impact will it have on the Western Balkan region? Sanir and Sandro discuss a number of future scenario's based on the current state of the crisis, and will give you their views on a potential future society. We also would like to thank our listeners who sent in questions, if you have any questions for Sanir and Sandro, please let them know on social media and your question will get answered in The Balkan Talks! 
01:07:40
May 6, 2020
S2E4: Business Opportunities in the Western Balkans
If you were to start doing business in the Western Balkans today, where would you start? A question often asked, and our hosts Sanir and Sandro take their time talking to you about all the business opportunities that exist in the region nowadays. Learn about experiences from others, about the opportunities in various industries and more relevant information that's of use to anybody looking to do business in the region. A number of questions from listeners are dissected and talked about once more, and we encourage you to keep sending them in! You might earn yourself a spot in the next episode of The Balkan Talks!
51:23
March 11, 2020
S2E3: The World of Balkan Music with Armin Hamzic
You have probably listened to his Spotify playlist at least once: Balkan Hitovi 2020 by Armin Hamzic, the most popular Balkan Spotify playlist you can find! How did this playlist come into existence, what impact is music from the Balkans making and what will the future hold? We talk about all these questions and more as we focus in on the music industry in the Balkans, and examine the central role that music has in Balkan society. We also share our personal experiences and the way in which we have seen the industry changing in the region. If you are interested in Armin's playlist, go and look it up 'Balkan Hitovi 2020' on Spotify! 
01:06:13
February 26, 2020
S2E2: The Next Step in EU-Western Balkans Relations
Keep calm and carry on! Or isn't it business as usual this time around? While everybody is talking about Brexit and the looming goodbye of the United Kingdom, in this episode we focus on what this and other developments in the European Union means for the Western Balkans. What is the current state of things, and how will it impact future accession of non-EU countries in the Western Balkan region? Learn all about it in this week's episode of The Balkan Talks, where we will also be taking the time to answer a few questions from you listeners. If you want to send in a question too, send us a message on any of our social media channels and it might make it onto the show!
01:05:22
February 12, 2020
S2E1: It's Always Sunny in Croatia with Sander Schimmelpenninck
What is the tie that Sander Schimmelpenninck has with Croatia? What brings him to the region, and what keeps pulling him back time and again? To learn more about one of Sander's biggest passions, go and listen to this first episode of the second season of The Balkan Talks! Our Dutch listeners are probably familiar with the work of Sander, but for our non-Dutch listeners, Sander is an entrepreneur, journalist, editor-in-chief of the Dutch business magazine Quote and host of the late-night talkshow "Op1". We focus in on his love for Croatia, why he believes that the country deserves a lot more attention than it does and are treated to a lot of great anecdotes along the way! 
54:34
January 29, 2020
S1E10: Story of a Balkan Expat with Dusan Radicanin
In our final episode of the season we have invited a voice that is not heard (or listened to) that often. What is it like to be an expat from the Western Balkans, to work and live away from your home region? We invited Dusan Radicanin to talk about his experiences as an expat. Dusan is from Novi Sad, Serbia. He currently works at the Rabobank as a financial model validator, and he has almost obtained his doctorate in mathematics. His life story is an interesting one, and we can all learn something from the perspective that Dusan has to share. What is it like for highly-educated young professionals to leave their home country and build their careers and lives in a foreign land? And how is that experience for someone from the Balkans in particular? Find out in this fun and lighthearted episode!
50:30
December 4, 2019
S1E9: Metal Manufacturing in the Balkans with Joris Aalberse
Making the step as a Western entrepeneur to start doing business in the Western Balkans, it is a step that Joris Aalberse has made.  Joris is a Dutch CEO and investor, and together with a business partner he owns Jumbo-Groenewegen group, a company specializing in the production of truck trailers. The business owns two factories in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Tesanj area, where they employ a few hundred locals in their production lines. Joris shares his story about investing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the things he's experienced, his challenges and the opportunities. He tells us how despite the challenges, the country is full of opportunities. * In this episode we also have WBBG team member Dado filling in as a host for Sandro. 
45:04
October 30, 2019
S1E8: Entrepreneurial Mindset with Amir Sabirovic
What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur? What does it mean to be somebody who takes ownership of their own life and takes full advantage of the opportunities that exist in the world? To learn more about this, we invited AI specialist, speaker, motivator, entrepreneur and manager Amir Sabirovic, to talk with him about his life and career.  We focus on his life and mindset as an entrepreneur.  Ever since he was little Amir has been looking into ways to improve his life, standards, knowledge and experience and he has brought that mindset with him throughout his adulthood and career. He shares with us his vision of entrepreneurship and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. How did he get where he is today? 
45:19
August 30, 2019
S1E7: The WBBG Special with Sanir and Sandro
During the quiet summer months your The Balkan Talks-hosts Sanir and Sandro take the time to tell you more about the Western Balkans Business Group (WBBG), the company behind The Balkan Talks. Next to hosting The Balkan Talks, Sanir and Sandro are also the Managing Partners of WBBG, where they engage in doing business with the Western Balkans on a daily basis. We try to tell you more about what we do at the company, what we have learned about doing business with the Western Balkan region and why we believe it is important to promote doing business with this part of the world. We talk about how we try to spread awareness in the rest of the world about the possibilities of the region, and invite you to contact us if you have any interest in doing so yourself. To learn more, visit our website at www.wbbusinessgroup.com! 
51:30
July 30, 2019
S1E6: Opportunities in Albania's Garment Industry with Veerle Luiting
Producing a garment in Albania, transporting it to Italy, sewing on a button there and labelling it 'Made in Italy'? We talk about Albania and more with Veerle Luiting, about her experiences in the garment industry of the country and what somebody can generally expect from Albania.  Veerle has a background in sustainable fashion and business development and has a lot of interest in Albania. She has lead a number of projects related to the Albanian garment industry and has gotten to know the local factories and economy better than most other foreign entrepreneurs. During this episode, we talk about the opportunities we see in the country, and also about some of the challenges what somebody could face when looking to do business with Albania. Veerle gives us some practical tips on how to deal with these challenges.  If you're curious about the garment industry, manufacturing and doing business in Albania, then this is a great episode for you!
49:29
June 28, 2019
S1E5: Youth Empowerment with Dino Karajic (Mr. Slavic)
Some might know him as Dino Karajic, some might know him through his online handle Mr. Slavic.  In any case, Dino is an entrepreneur, IT consultant and Youtuber who has a lot of interesting stories to tell. During this episode he shares his views on how to empower, motivate and stimulate youth in the Western Balkans. We come to the conclusion that there are more opportunities in the Western Balkans than most people realise, despite the potential difficulties that people in the region might be facing. Having experience in outsourcing and entrepreneurship himself, he shares some of his ideas and views on how to offer local youth opportunities they may not be aware of themselves. Make sure to check out the YouTube channel of Mr. Slavic: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7pc8NmzzxUGtUPrWgPXFZg 
49:20
May 29, 2019
S1E4: EU Elections and Policy with Andreas Zenthöfer
If you are a EU-citizen, then soon you will have to vote again. With the upcoming EU Parliamentary elections, we speak with Andreas Zenthöfer about the EU, the elections and of course the relations of the EU with the Western Balkans region. What do the EU elections mean for the region and what can we expect in broader terms for the future of the EU? Andreas is the Head of Sector Political Reporting & Policy Analysis. He is part of the Representation of the European Commission in the Netherlands. As such, he is stationed in The Hague. Furthermore, Andreas represents D66, a Dutch political party which also has a presence in the EU parliament.
50:22
April 24, 2019
S1E3: The Potential for Tourism with Julian Buijzen
The Western Balkan region is known for all her beautiful nature and spectacular sites worth visiting. But there is so much more potential to discover when it comes to tourism. We sit down with Julian Buijzen, a journalist currently working with NOS and L1 (news outlets in The Netherlands) to talk about this potential. Julian has developed a love for the Balkans through his travels and work, and has some interesting opinions and views to share on the region. In this light-hearted episode, we talk to him about his views on the potential for tourism in the region, the do's, don'ts and we share some of our own experiences as well. 
42:26
March 28, 2019
S1E2: Brain Drain and Stability with Adi Cerimagic
During our visit to Brussels we got the opportunity to speak with Adi Cerimagic, a member of the European Stability Initiative (ESI). The ESI is an initiative that is focussed on the role of Southeastern European affairs in the European context, and Adi travels all over Europe to speak at congresses, forums and panels about his research on the Western Balkan region. His ongoing research on the region has allowed him access to policy makers across the EU and the Western Balkans and thus given him valuable information on the topics of EU policy for the Western Balkans and topics such as brain drain and stability. In this episode, we pick his brain on this topic, so enjoy!
43:31
February 26, 2019
S1E1: Outsourcing IT in Serbia with Amer Grgic
The launch of The Balkan Talks! What is it like to outsource your IT services and business to the Western Balkans? We have Amer Grgic on as our guest, sharing his views and experience on outsourcing in the Western Balkans region.  Amer is the CTO of Tevreden.nl, a Dutch customer satisfaction research company that relies on its software application to provide their services to clients.  The production of this application happened in Serbia, and is still going strong today. Amer has set up and managed this process from the beginning and shares his insights on the process. Amer also hosts his own podcast called Bits vs. Bytes, where he invites a lot of big names from the Dutch technology and business sector to talk about the latest developments.
47:13
January 28, 2019