15th Annual Ukraine Investor Conference: Keynote speech by Carl Bildt, Co-chair of European Council on Foreign Relations, Former Prime Minister of Sweden

Dragon Capital held its 15th Annual Ukraine Investor Conference on Feb. 12-13 in Kyiv.

The event drew about 400 foreign investors and local guests, with foreign institutions whose representatives attended boasting over $3 trillion under management, invited speakers and media representatives. This was matched by a high-profile speaker faculty, which included the president and prime minister of Ukraine, the National Bank governor, senior Cabinet officials, and many others. The size of the audience, one of the largest in the history of our events, demonstrated investors’ keen interest in Ukraine’s double elections this year, presidential in March and parliamentary in October. Politics was, therefore, a major focus of the conference.

Below please find our summary of the keynote speech by Carl Bildt, Co-chair of European Council on Foreign Relations, Former Prime Minister of Sweden:

  • Ukraine inherited significant assets following the collapse of the Soviet Union but did not have any real experience of independent governance, of rule of law, and of an open and functioning economy. As a result, Ukraine did very badly and turned into one of the worst governed places in Europe.
  • But following the Russian military aggression, Ukraine survived and implemented a number of structural reforms, which at a certain point were more numerous than reforms in the rest of Europe combined. As long as there is no reform fatigue in Ukraine, there will be no Ukraine fatigue in Europe. The agenda ahead is challenging both for Ukraine and for Europe, but the door for further integration of Ukraine in Europe remains open. The possibility for Ukraine to apply for EU membership will depend on the speed of reforms and on the European Union’s readiness for further enlargement. Historically, every enlargement of the EU faced resistance from member countries.
  • The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be completed sooner or later, however, the question of its capacity and the conditions of its utilization remain open. The long-term future of Ukraine’s economy should not be dependent on income from the transit of Russian gas.
  • Fundamentally, the Minsk agreements are still the best resolution for the military conflict in the east, though their format may change. The only realistic solution going forward is an interim international administration and subsequent reintegration of the Donbas region. The Kremlin’s policy is opportunistic, and their preferred outcome is a “mess” in Ukraine.
  • The next President should not endanger macroeconomic stability and should remain on the reform path – proceed with energy independence, privatization, the fight against corruption, and land reform, the latter being a sensitive issue but having huge long-term potential.