Vasyl Khmelnytsky’s interview for EU Today during the European Business Summit
Vasyl Khmelnytsky is a Ukrainian entrepreneur and investor. He is First Vice President of the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (ULIE), which opened its Brussels offices in April 2015.
EU Today met Mr Khmelnytsky, considered to be one of the most influential people in Ukraine, when he addressed the European Business Summit in Brussels on June 1st and asked him what achievements he felt that the League has made during this first year.
“Due to this office, we now have direct access to business associations across Europe,” he said. “We have begun to hold direct business to business meetings…. Ukraine is a very large and interesting market, we have a highly educated workforce, so we are very well positioned, we are particularly strong in agriculture, and also in the IT sector. Through our business association we want to convey to Europe the strength and the future potential of Ukraine.”
With regard to the reforms required of Ukraine for further integration with the EU, Mr Khmelnytsky stated that “I believe that in Ukraine we are meeting all the conditions necessary to begin full cooperation. However we do accept the danger of political risks, and so the priority is to create a secure and consistent business environment to reassure potential investors, and to give them the certainty that they require. We know this well”. He expressed his confidence in the ability of the new Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, to address European concerns about corruption, but emphasised that there are changes that may take time. “If you pay a public official $100 a month, and so therefore he feels he has to engage in corrupt behaviour to survive, you can catch him and send him to jail. But if you then replace him another who earns $100, don’t be surprised with what happens next. Our officials must have higher motivation, coupled with higher levels of responsibility and accountability. We must remove the economic conditions that breed corruption.”
Finally, Mr Khmelnytsky was asked about an aspect of his life that is less well known than his political and business activities. He is the founder of K.Fund, the goal of which is to help talented young people achieve success in Ukraine and give young professionals new horizons.
He devotes much of his time and resources to the education of young people. When asked about his motives he replied “I believe that there is no other way to provide for further economic growth than to change the way we educate,” he said. “We ought to change our country in such a way that we have a new generation with new educational norms and experiences. At the moment, all modern technologies, when super imposed on top of a Ukrainian mentality, seem not to fit. So I have a school that I invest in, and I want us to run an experiment, and to move ourselves forward. If it works, maybe I can propose to roll this out on a national level”.