Ukraine: Celebrating the 30th anniversary of independence

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Mr. Sergii Shutenko
H.E. the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Hellenic Republic

 

Ukraine: Celebrating the 30th anniversary of independence

This year is very significant for both of our countries. Ukraine marks the 30th anniversary of independence, Greece – 200th anniversary since the beginning of Greek struggle for its independence.

The well-renowned Greek revolutionary organization «Filiki Eteria», which played an important role in the national struggle for freedom of Greece, was born on the Ukrainian soil in the city of Odesa. This element of shared history makes us extremely proud. I would like to congratulate the Greek people on the historic bicentennial of their independence.

I am proud to emphasize that our close ties are based on the mutual respect, common cultural and spiritual heritage. We share the same democratic values and principles.

European and Euro-Atlantic integration is the basis of Ukraine’s external vector. Ukraine continues the strategic course set and enshrined in the Constitution for full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance.

The top priority of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is to bring peace to our land. Amid ongoing Russian aggression my country will never abandon its efforts to restore its control on the temporarily occupied territories of Crimean and Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine stands for peaceful politico-diplomatic solution.

We are grateful to Greece for the firm and unwavering support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Ukraine continues to consolidate international efforts to achieve the complete de-occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

To this end, Ukraine is creating a new international coordination format, the Crimea Platform, and calls on all partners to join it.

Could you provide details about this initiative?

The Crimean Platform will become a foreign policy instrument of the de-occupation strategy. This flexible international format is aimed at consolidating international efforts and achieving synergy of intergovernmental, parliamentary, and expert levels.

The ultimate goal of the platform is eventual de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine by peaceful means.

On the way to this main goal, we will focus on: consolidating the non-recognition policy; improving the effectiveness of sanctions and blocking ways of their circumvention; countering militarization of Crimea and ensuring freedom of navigation and preventing blockade of transport corridors; protecting the human rights and international humanitarian law; and overcoming negative consequences for the economy and environment.

We invite the Greek side to join the Platform.

The pandemic COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes and almost all world economies showed a rapid decline in GDP. How does Ukraine overcome these threats?

The pandemic became the factor that forced the entire world to re-think its approaches for shaping priorities for a long-term period.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukrainian economic sectors have been hit hard in 2020. Agriculture is expected to be among the least affected by quarantine restrictions, while services, trade and transport have been the most affected.

But we are optimistic and a recovery is expected in 2021.

Ukraine is the world’s fifth largest exporter of grains and one of the main exporters of iron and steel. The main exported products are cereals (19.32% of exports), iron and steel (17.52%), fats and oils (9.49%), electrical machinery and fuel. The main imported products are fuels (20.06% of imports), machinery (10.97%), electrical equipment (10.97%), vehicles (9.55%), plastics and pharmaceutical products (International Trade Center, 2019).

Ukraine strives to further strengthen relations and cooperation with the European Union, which is Ukraine’s main trading partner. According to the results of 2020, the share of trade in goods and services with the EU amounted to 40.7% of total trade in Ukraine.

What are the key achievements of Ukraine in 2020?

Ukraine continues to undergo a seismic democratic and economic transformation. The main reforms that have already been implemented today are: land reform, adoption of the banking law, gas market reform, adoption of the law on concessions, privatization at open auctions, deregulation of the economy.

The Ukrainian authorities pay great attention to creating a favorable business climate in the country and attracting foreign investors.

The Government of Ukraine is fully concentrated on implementation of transparent, open and democratic reforms aimed at sustainable economic development and the well-being of the Ukrainian people.

Among the core achievements I would like to underline the following: adopted Law “On State Support for Investment Projects with Significant Investment”; privatization of 413 objects for 2 billion UAH in total; 2 concession agreements (139.3 million USD in total); the signed Memorandum with leading IT companies (2 billion USD in total); Initiated investment projects with high added value (500 million USD in total).

I am proud to state that in 2020, the country climbed five more places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ratings, to 64 out of 190 countries, and the Bank rates Ukraine second among the countries of the world in the last 10 years regarding the speed and depth in the improvement of the business climate. Between 2015-2019, Ukraine witnessed foreign direct investment flows of $16 billion, resulting in the construction of over 100 manufacturing plants, representing tens of thousands of new high-added-value jobs. These include a $200 million state-of-the-art seed processing facility by Bayer from Germany, a $150 million grain terminal by Cargill from the US, a second $16 million manufacturing site by US-based Jabil, and the arrival of such global brands as General Electric, Ryanair, HEAD, IKEA, H&M, Decathlon, and many others.

How do you think what are the promising areas for bilateral cooperation between our countries?

We are interested in deepening bilateral cooperation in different areas, such as agrarian sector, energy tourism, IT, aerospace, shipbuilding, transport, infrastructure.

I would like to go through a number of detailed points such as IT, aerospace, shipbuilding and tourism.

IT sphere. Ukraine is becoming a leading IT outsourcing destination in Europe due to its booming tech ecosystem, which is predicted to reach US$8.4 billion of industry export volume in 2025, a large talent pool of 200,000 IT professionals, and strong tech education.

Ukrainian software developers are recognized among the 5th strongest IT professionals globally thanks to their solid technical expertise, high English proficiency level (70% speak English at an upper-intermediate level), and knowledge of emerging disciplines (Go, AI, big data, blockchain, etc.)

Amid the 2021 global lockdown, Ukraine’s IT industry is showing a 20% growth and gaining a worth of more than $6 billion.

The Ukrainian IT industry consists of over 4,000 local IT service companies and more than 110 leading global companies have subsidiaries in the country. Samsung, Microsoft, Ring, Snap, Magento, Plarium, Boeing, Siemens, Ericsson – all have established R&D centers in Ukraine.

Aerospace. Ukraine has a long and unique history in the field of aerospace technology going back to the early decades of the ‘space race’ in the 20th century. During that time, many of the leading Soviet design and production facilities were established in Ukraine – where they continue to remain active to the present day.

As a result,  Ukraine is one of the few nations with a developed aerospace industry, involving a full cycle of design, production and operation of advanced civil, military and cargo aircraft, as well as supplying space technology.

Ukraine has a long-term technological and production experience which will take years to build for other countries. Human capital is a key asset of Ukraine’s aerospace industry.

Opportunities for foreign business: Ukraine provides an efficient platform for establishing a maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) service center for regular checks and maintenance to aircrafts.

Ukraine is well-positioned and has all the necessary expertise to become a part of foreign aerospace companies value chain.

Ukraine is currently successfully implementing several projects commissioned by its international partners, including Antares project jointly with Northrop Grumman.

Ukraine provides NASA and the European Space Agency with its rocket equipment at the highest level.

So, our countries have a great potential for the development of the bilateral cooperation in airspace area.

Shipbuilding. The geographical position of Ukraine is very favourable, it has the outlets to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Nowadays different types of vessels are built in Ukraine: dry cargo, bulk tankers, whaling base, freezing fishing trawlers, receiving and transport, reefer timber, for seismic search, passenger hydrofoils, etc. The structure of military vehicles significantly increased. There are many shiprepair companies.

Shipbuilding is very specific field of heavy industry. Using the products and achievements of many contiguous branches of industry to create its own product (metallurgy, machine-building, electronics, etc.) shipbuilding stimulates the development of these industries and raises the standards of required scientific and technical capabilities. Creation of one workplace in shipbuilding is followed by the creation of 4-5 workplaces in contiguous industries. On the one hand situation in the shipbuilding indicates the level of economic development of the country and on the other hand it stimulates the economic development.

In 2020, according the Ukrainian association of shipbuilders (comprising 10 companies) Ukrainian shipbuilders produced 18 vessels, in 2019 -14 vessels (12 for the domestic market, and 2 for exports). Ship repairs last year covered 190 vessels: 149 for the domestic market, and 41 for exports.

On June 2021 Ukraine and the United Kingdom signed the Memorandum which provides for the joint design and construction of warships in Ukraine and the United Kingdom, the reconstruction of Ukrainian shipbuilding enterprises, and the construction of two bases of the Ukrainian Navy.

Ukraine and Greece are maritime powers and cooperation in shipbuilding/shiprepair can be fruitful, given that Greece has a dominant role in world shipping.

Every year Ukraine holds International exhibition on shipping, shipbuilding and ports development. This year “TransUkraine 2021” will take place on 31 August – 2 September  at the exhibition complex of Odesa sea port. The event program will also include the international conference concerning sea and river transportation, shipbuilding, issues of economic cooperation, functioning and development. I would like to invite the Greek stakeholders to participate in these events.

Tourism. Last years were extremely tough for the tourism all over the world. We are grateful for the decision of the Greek Government to reopen borders for the Ukrainian tourists. And I welcome the Greek tourists to visit Ukraine!

Ukraine is open for all tourists around the world. The most promising areas of tourism in Ukraine are: historical and heritage, cultural, adventurous, rural, gastronomical, medical & wellness, event and mice tourism.

The history of Ukraine makes our modern country one of the brightest world’s destinations.

Famous UNESCO World Heritage list includes manmade masterpieces, the most valuable cultural and historical objects as well as natural wonders. Ukraine is proud to have eight of them: St. Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Lviv Historic Centre Ensemble, Struve Geodetic Arc, Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, Wooden churches of the Carpathian region and others.

Safety is our priority. All necessary COVID-19 related health safety measures and rules recommended by the WHO and Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine are strictly kept by hospitality sector. Additionally, Ukraine is not overcrowded tourist destination, which is important for post-Covid travel.

Gastro tourism in Ukraine gives as unforgettable experience, knowledge, emotions and skills. It is based on the conception – not just to see but to taste. You will have priceless experience in exploring the route of tastes and wine in certain regions Ukraine as the country, where national cuisine has special style of cooking, practice and traditions associated with culture and culinary art, is definitely in must-visit list of gastro thematic traveling.

The peculiar features of traditional Ukrainian food have been forming over centuries.

Absolutely exceptional hospitality and generosity, hard working people and rich soil have influenced the complexity of the dishes as well as the neighboring countries and many nationalities settled on the territory of Ukraine.

Ukraine and Greece have close relationship, based on century-old historical and cultural ties between the two nations and are marked by a spirit of cooperation. I would like to wish prosperity and all the best to friendly Greek people.