I was recently privileged to attend the Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Arsenal at the splendid Donbass Arena in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. You can see a photo from the match day in the set below.  


As with all Champions League and Europa League matches in Ukraine, the embassy put in place consular arrangements including a small team travelling from Kyiv to Donetsk.  Representatives of the Metropolitan Police also came out from London.  On the night everything went smoothly and there were no consular incidents.  All the Shakhtar fans watching, including President Yanukovych, enjoyed their team's 2:1 victory.

The match was important as a demonstration of the ability of Donetsk to put on a big match ahead of the Euro 2012 championship.  The stadium and match arrangements were impressive; and at the airport a new terminal is under construction.  But the city is also preparing in many other ways.  The President of the Donetsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gennadiy Chizhikov, introduced me to the new head of their "Europe Office", designed to make it easier for European inward investors to set up shop in the city.  The Donetsk branch of International House showed me their smart new English language teaching centre in the city centre and introduced me to teachers and students.  I also met the General Director of the DonStream Education Group, who told me about their English language school in Donetsk.  These efforts are bearing fruit: outside a branch of a bank in Donetsk I saw a big illuminated sign saying "Welcome! we speak English!"

I've blogged before about the merits of British education; about How politics affects inward investment; and about why business people in Ukraine are brilliant.  The ability of Donetsk, one of Ukraine's most entrepreneurial cities, to create an environment were both football fans and foreign business people are welcome will be an important test case for Ukraine's efforts to show that it is genuinely ready to welcome the opportunities which the rest of Europe can offer.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: 

Ukrayinska Dumka


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