With the World Cup about to kick off in South Africa, many people in Ukraine are hard at work trying to ensure that Euro 2012, due to be held jointly in four Ukrainian and four Polish cities in two years' time, is a big success.  On a visit to Kharkiv, the biggest city in eastern Ukraine, I find evidence of preparations everywhere.  The airport is a turmoil of construction.  Roads and hotels are being built.  A brand new stadium for 42,000 people, home to FC Metalist Kharkiv, gleams in the sun, complete with state of the art technology and hospitality suites.

Kharkiv has a reputation as a place where people get things done.  Regional and city leaders emphasise to me not only the city's potential (including 300,000 students) but also the progress it has made preparing for Euro 2012.  There's certainly a lot going on: during my visit a new terminal is inaugurated at Kharkiv International Airport.  This coincides with a major conference, Routes CIS, organised by Manchester-based company Route Development Group, designed to bring together airports, airlines and tourism authorities to discuss network development plans.  The importance of the occasion is marked by the presence of Borys Kolesnikov, Deputy Prime Minister responsible for 2012 preparations.  The conference is the first of its type in the CIS.  Like Euro 2012 itself, it's a sign of how people-to-people contacts are gradually networking Ukraine ever more closely with the rest of Europe.

And here's another: also in Kharkiv I meet up with the British Amateur Rugby League Under-23 team, in Kharkiv for a series of games, some of which have already taken place.  Good luck for the game on 8 June, lads.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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Ukrayinska Dumka


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