27 February 2009

Three Way Meeting a great success

Our February meeting last night was another great success. Over 100 people attended our joint BBCU, BUS & EU-Ukraine Business Council meeting - The Rule of Law in Ukraine.

Our two main guest speakers were John Grogan MP (Member for Selby) and Sir Brian Neill.
John inspired people with a positive speech about the relationships between the UK and Ukraine, but reminded everyone that the 2012 Euro football events must be a success, or it will prove a disappointment for Ukraines image abroad.

Sir Brian Neill gave an outstanding presentation on the findings from his first visit last year along with Sir Henry Brooke. He gave an interested account of where Ukraine currently stands in legal process terms. (Copies of the report were made available at the meeting in both English and Ukrainian). I must say I admire him the way he just stands up and without any notes and remembers names and places and dates and gives an accurate account of things. He is a very professional man and a fine example of a former senior British judge. They dont make them like him anymore. He makes me proud to be British.

Many people from the audience shared my views also and came to express how impressed they were. One young woman asked me why we dont form a road show and tour around the country inspring young people inlaw schools and universities. A great idea, but a full time job also.

So, another successful event and many people stayed on later as usual to 'celebrate'.

I would like to thank James Wilson of the EU-Ukraine Business Council and Vera Kravchanko from the British Ukrainian Society for helping to organis this three way event.

22 February 2009

Ukraine cannot afford to default

Many European banks will be hit hard if Ukraine defaults as a country.
The Austrian banks have a significant level of exposure in Ukraine so do the Hungarians and Germans and many others.

Times of recession bring people back down to reality. But I still think we have a long way to go in Kyiv. Anyone visiting a shop, bar, restaurant or cafe in Kyiv city centre will see that prices are still very high when compared to other European cities. Many visitors still find this hard to understand about Ukraine.

Property prices have now reduced. Although the evidence is weak as very few transactions are taking place. Many people have lost jobs and companies are going to the wall in Ukraine, but the ones that survive still hold onto a unique system that is only practiced in former soveit states.
That practice is; they just DO NOT PAY STAFF.
Ukrainian employees will continue to turn up for work everyday knowing they will not get paid and living in the hope that they will get paid 'one day'. The mentality is that its better to have a job than no job. I still find this hard to understand and smile when I think about what would happen if you told your employees in the UK that they can continue working without pay!!!!

Lets see what happens in the country this week.

18 February 2009

February Event - The Rule of Law

I am sat in a hotel lobby in Athens reading my emails.
Cannot help but notice the big difference between Athens and Kyiv right now.
Everyone seems to be forecasting more doom and gloom for Ukraine. "On the brink of collapse" etc etc. Maybe they will prove to be right. BUT, life will go on. Things may get pretty bad this year in Ukraine. But we must all continue to remain optimistic about the long term future.

So optimistic, that our next meeting on 26th February will be about the RULE OF LAW in Ukraine. This will be a joint meeting with the British Ukrainian Society and the EU-Ukraine Business Council.

So, back to the airport. Ukraine still offers opportunity. Many still waiting to be discovered.