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Davos Ukrainian Breakfast: NEWS


“Ukraine 2020 - New Reality, New Narrative, New Challenges” was discussed at Ukrainian breakfast in Davos Organized by Victor Pinchuk Foundation and EastOne

On January 23, 2020, in Davos (Switzerland), the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and international investment advisory group EastOne have held the annual Davos Ukrainian Breakfast, their traditional private event organized at the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). This year’s discussion was themed Ukraine 2020 - New Reality, New Narrative, New Challenges.

Among the speakers were David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, Bill Ford, Chief Executive Officer of General Atlantic, Jared Cohen, Founder and CEO of Jigsaw, Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Chairperson-in-Office, OSCE, as well as Oleg Sentsov. Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk joined the discussion as a speaker of honor. The event was moderated by Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

Opening the event, the businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk said: “Ukraine’s main tasks are reforms and to defend against aggression. But there is another thing that is essential, which is building a strong narrative around Ukraine. Many agree that in terms of reforms and defending against the aggression, Ukraine’s leadership does a job that is not bad at all. The narrative is also crucial. We must be everywhere and show simply the truth. It is not all white but much whiter than the stereotype.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, shared in his video address several points intended for investors inviting them to launch activities in Ukraine: “For those who invest more than $100 million, we will conclude a direct investment agreement with the state, based on the English law. These investors will receive a personal tutor - a nanny – from the government, speaking 5 languages and available on a 24/7 basis to take care of all your issues.

Our second proposal: Invest now. We will provide investors who privatize state-owned enterprises worth $10 million or more in the next 2 years with a 5-year tax holiday. We are also implementing a fast return of investment to modernization: 2 to 5 years instead of 10 or 12. And in order to provide a guaranteed protection of property rights, we will create an international arbitration system for investors in Ukraine.

We are building equal and uniform rules of the game for all, digitalizing processes and reducing the role of the state where it is redundant. NOT investing in Ukraine is akin to being George Bell who refused to buy Google for $1 million in 1999! So, do not miss out Ukraine.”

Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk also presented his point of view on investment in Ukraine: “Today is the best moment to invest in our country. Now, Ukraine is the best emerging economy to invest. We are transforming the country as fast as it can ever be. We need rule of law. We need to truly fight corruption. We need to simplify processes, digitalise our procedures, cancel redundant regulations and train our people. Investors need comfort already now, and this is why we are offering this individual approach. We want investors to feel important, and feel care from the part of the state already now. We want to show that Ukraine is unprecedently open to investment, to the world and to new standards.” 

Addressing the participants of the Davos Ukrainian Breakfast, Oleg Sentsov said: “Ukraine has made its choice six years ago, and will never quit that path. You should be assured of this. We have independent and democratic elections, and the recent change of power demonstrated it to the whole world. We have been fighting the Russian aggression for six years, and we have not given up. If we have managed to do that, we will manage the other thing: we will make reforms, and we will become the Ukraine we aspire to be.” 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic Miroslav Lajčák stressed on the need for the international community to support Ukraine: “Ukraine is the only country on the European continent that is unfortunately at war. It has been going on for six years, but we must not get used to it. Ukraine is on the agenda of all relevant international bodies. We must not stop. We need the Ukrainian government to have a full control over its territory, a full access to every part of the country, a full control over the Ukrainian-Russian border, and we have to make sure that the local elections in Ukraine will be conducted under the Ukrainian law, with full transparency, free and fair, meeting the European standards. And the international community must show its full support for Ukraine.” 

Founder and CEO of Jigsaw Jared Cohen said: “For me and the work that I do, there is no more important country than Ukraine. Ukraine has become a hub for innovation for the various cyber activity from its neighbour. Ukraine is where the most advanced experimentation takes place. From my perspective, Ukraine is a kind of ground zero for innovation in terms of how we respond. Ukraine has one of the most robust civil societies, and you have world class software engineers. You live in a geopolitical context where the engineers don’t need help understanding the nature of threats. I think, Ukrainians are well-positioned to respond, and the responsibility is on all the rest of us to find ways to invest in those capabilities. The next great company for cybersecurity should come from Ukraine, and we need to do our part to help foster that.” 

Economist Robert J. Shiller, speaking of Ukraine’s prospects, said: “Ukrainian government has to work to promote what I would call “sustainable optimism”. It has to be something that people really believe in. I think that the educational system in Ukraine has to present something that is contagious. It has to present the truth. Then corruption that you are talking about is substantially driven by a culture of corruption, and it has to be that history is to revise that notion. We need the optimism that we see now in Ukraine to be sustainable. We do not look at the latest growth numbers as an indication of success, but we have to look at how the culture is changing.”

Chief Executive Officer of General Atlantic Bill Ford said: “The key element of success is talent. Ukraine is blessed with a very strong educational system and very strong engineering talent. But that talent has to believe in the opportunity and return to Ukraine and develop business here. Ukraine is going to see a generation of young people who will build digital businesses within Ukraine. I think that the thing that will really create enthusiasm and confidence for the country is young entrepreneurs who will build real businesses and real success in bringing technology in.”

Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group David M. Rubenstein commented on things to be done to make Ukraine more attractive for investment: “People investing in emerging markets are looking for higher rate of return on investment. There has been a certain boom in investing in emerging markets. Ukraine’s problem with the corruption is not so much the corruption itself but the perception of corruption. Many investors eager to invest in emerging markets because they are seeking higher rate of investment return are afraid of being criticized because even though you did nothing wrong, because of that perception of the corruption, people would think you do something wrong. I think, Ukraine has to work on its image as well as the reality. I think that the government is interested in attracting foreign capital and getting rid of the perception of corruption as well as the reality.”

Leaders from politics, business, civil society and the media from Ukraine and the world attended the event, among them: Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden (2006-2014) and Prime Minister of Sweden (1991-1994); Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at Stanford university; John E.Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council, Andrii Kobolev, CEO of Naftogaz of Ukraine, Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council; Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland (1995–2005), Chairman of the Board of YES; Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal; Tymofiy Mylovanov, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Founder of Rasmussen Global, Secretary General of NATO (2009-2014), and Prime Minister of Denmark (2001-2009) and others.

The Davos Ukrainian Breakfast has been organized annually since 2005 to promote Ukraine and bring Ukrainian and international leaders together.

In addition, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation together with other partners - WNISEF, Horizon Capital and UVCA - for a 3rd consecutive year organizes the Ukraine House, which operates in Davos on January 20-24, 2020.

Contacts for media-inquires:

E-mail: [email protected],

Tel: +380 44 494 11 48

Partners of the Davos Ukrainian Breakfast 2020

  • Hillmont
  • Horizon
  • International Renaissance Foundation
  • Kyivstar
  • Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF)
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