Happy Independence Day Ukraine!

August 25, 2009

August 24th, 2009 marked the 18th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine.  People of my generation still find it hard to grasp.  For the majority of our lives (at least those born around 1970 or before), Ukraine was the Ukrainian S.S.R. of the Soviet Union.  18 years seems like a long time, yet it passes in the blink of an eye.  Now freed from Communist rule, Ukraine is now independent, a democratic society, reforming its economy to be more open.  They are having a truly open debate on their ongoing relationship with Russia.  Upcoming presidential elections are expected to truly reflect the will of the people.

Ukraine’s economy, while still a work in progress, is transforming.  In 2007, Ukraine became a net food exporter for the first time since World War I.  Ukraine is a source of software development talent and one of its companies published Stalker, a videogame based on a Russian science fiction movie set in the aftermath of the Chornobyl disaster.  Ukraine’s steel industry is globally competitive, as are its agrochemicals and industrial chemicals industries.  Exports to the United States and the European Union are on the rise.  Ukraine has not been immune to the ravages of the current global recession but they will find their way through.

We had a presence at the Ukrainian Congress Committee’s independence day celebration this weekend in Duluth.  The national pride was bursting as almost everyone was in national costume.  There was wonderful food that I have not tasted in years.  Pretty much the only English spoken in the room was around me (I’m trying to remember my Ukrainian but it’s a work in progress).  Everyone was great to us and we are grateful for their sharing the world-famous Ukrainian hospitality.

Ukraine’s independence impacts more than just the 46 million inhabitants of that country.  It brings joy to the 1 million ethnic Ukrainians in North America.  Ukraine’s independence is also a happy reminder of the business opportunities between Georgia and Ukraine, of which we have only scratched the surface.

— mike


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