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There are many excellent cities in Ukraine. But I have always had a soft spot for Lviv since I spent two weeks staying with a family there to learn Ukrainian.

It’s also where I started blogging. So I was delighted to visit the city again this month for meetings with regional and city politicians; to support an important British investment and UK-Ukrainian military cooperation; to meet local political analysts; to attend a dinner organised by the British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and the Lviv Chamber of Commerce; and to address the students of the Lviv National University.

I’m impressed by the dynamism of Lviv, where I meet a young, English-speaking team keen to welcome inward investors and working hard to prepare for Euro 2012.

When I visit, spring is in the air. In the spectacular town centre, open-air cafes are coming to life. In the countryside, rich black earth glistens in the sunshine as long-buried seeds begin to germinate. At the university, switched-on students of international relations pose challenging questions. At the Lviv Bus factory (LAZ), transportation fleets for Euro 2012 near completion.

I’ve written before about the tumultuous history of Ukraine, as illustrated amongst other things by the castles around Lviv and the region’s fortified churches. But it’s good to hear too about the future, as shown by the promise of Euro 2012; the fact that Lviv is both a high-tech hub and a zone of immense agricultural potential; and by those students. Lviv may be a beautiful, historic city worth a visit for any would-be tourist. But there’s much more to the city – and the region – than that.

Leigh Turner

Ukrayinska Dumka


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