PrOFile: YUlia tYmOShenkO
The PasT few years haVe beeN TurbuleNT eVeN by ukraiNe’s sTaNDarDs,
buT Prime miNisTer yulia TymOsheNkO iNsisTs The siTuaTiON will seTTle
afTer NexT year’s PresiDeNTial eleCTiONs, wriTes Courtney Fingar
CUrriCUlUm Vitae rom the outside looking in, it is difficult ahead of her keynote address. She is a contro-
to see how exactly Ukraine works as an versial yet charismatic figure with a compli-
yulia TymOsheNkO entity, or how it stays together. It is a frac- cated biography, from oligarch and so-called
2007 tious, bipolar country, all but pulled in half by ‘gas princess’ who made a fortune in the
Ukraine tensions both internal and external. So, how energy industry, to antagonist in the Orange
to go about pursuing a co-ordinated, cohesive Revolution that followed questionable presi-
1999-2001 investment promotion strategy and national
economic development plan?
dential elections in November 2004 and
brought her erstwhile ally Viktor Yushchenko
Vice-premier minister That question was a hot one at the Lviv to power (whom she will challenge in presi-
International Economic Forum, which was dential elections in January 2010).
1998 held in early October. InvestUkraine, the Speaking to fDi (in Ukrainian) on the side-
Deputy of parliament national centre for investment promotion, is lines of the forum, she is every bit the parti-
working to resolve the question, and its new san, pinning the blame on political opponents
1998 director, Olena Hantsyak-Kaskiv, was on hand, and positioning her bloc as the solution to the
Strategic Committee on taking lots of notes throughout discussions instability, although, it must be said, with no
Budgeting of the Ukraine and eager to glean best practices from the small amount of charm.
Chairwoman international participants. “Indeed, right now there is a political crisis
The most interesting domestic participant, in Ukraine that has been caused by two factors.
however, was the one who is a central player in First of all, it’s an absolutely unprofessional
the divisive, tumultuous politics of the coun- constitutional reform conducted during the
try but also perhaps the only one with the star last presidential elections with all its conse-
wattage to raise (if not improve, which is a quences right now; and, secondly, [we are fac-
matter of opinion) its profile internationally. ing] the next presidential elections which
always, in any democratic society, mean com-
Charismatic figurehead petition and today complicate relations
Appearing at the final session of the event, between all presidential candidates,” she says.
prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko draws a “However, I do hope that by the middle of
standing-room-only crowd – a diminutive, doll- next February the rivalry will be over, and
like figure who sits demurely with ankles then the Ukrainian parliament, and all pol-
crossed wearing a white lace dress and famous itical forces, will be ready for a new con-
blonde braid wrapped around the top of her stitutional reform that would clean this intol-
head, while introductory remarks are made erable chaos.”
Chaos, certainly, is not a state that investors
enjoy – economic, political or otherwise. Yet
the prime minister would urge investors not to
bide their time while she works the political
angle and while the economy seeks a way back
immense possibilities from the brink.
lie in the energy “I believe that even today neither the politi-
sector, where Ukraine cal situation nor the current crisis should pre-
vent investors from bringing investments into
lags behind in an Ukraine, as right now there are most suitable
efficient power- opportunities for that,” she says.
Foremost among these opportunities, from
consUming of both the prime minister’s perspective, include the
indUstrial and energy sector – an area she knows intimately
and a hot-button issue if ever there was one,
hoUsehold sectors. given the geopolitical complexities surround-
we need investors ing European energy dependency on Russia,
and Russia’s willingness to make full political
use of this upper hand.
“Ukraine indeed offers great opportuni-
36 October/November 2009
ties; particularly, immense possibilities lie in
the energy sector, where Ukraine lags behind
in an efficient power-consuming of both
industrial and household sectors. That’s why
Ukraine needs investors particularly in this
sector,” she says.
The prime minister devoted a decent
chunk of her speech at the forum to promot-
ing renewable energy initiatives. “Today we
have everything in place for Ukraine to join
the common efforts for using alternative
sources of energy,” she said.
tax benefits on renewable energy
From January 1, 2010, new legislation will
come into force under which companies
involved in using alternative regenerative
sources of energy will be exempt from paying
taxes for 10 years. It is a significant change.
“Currently in the whole spreadsheet of the
Ukrainian energy consumption, it’s only 0.83%
that is generated from using alternative
energy sources. At the same time in [devel-
oped] countries, where they are much more
involved in this matter, a share of energy com-
ing from those sources is up to 15% and in cer-
tain cases even to 25%,” she says.
“We have to remember that Ukraine has
simply unlimited resources that can be used
as regenerative alternative sources of energy.
That’s why I would like us to work more on
this problem... This is the exciting and new
prospects for the potential investors into our
Days after the Lviv event, she told local
media that Ukraine will cut purchases of
Russian gas next year, following a statement
by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller that the com-
pany will not reduce the volumes of gas sup-
plied to Ukraine in 2010.
Energy sector importance aside, Ukraine is
still largely an agricultural country. It offers
“the highest-quality soils”, which have not
been fully exploited for agribusiness. “That is
why it is necessary for the future investors to
come here and assess the current situation to
decide what investments are needed and how
they would work in the most efficient way,”
Ms Tymoshenko comments to fDi before mak-
ing her way through the crush of people all
shouting for her attention. “They have to come
here to work as this sector offers great oppor-
tunities and markets for the produce, as well clockwise from top: Ukraine prime minister yulia tymoshenko; president viktor yushchenko;
as fantastic export potential.” ■ gazprom, the russian oil company which Ukraine has been at odds with
October/November 2009 37