On August 24, 2013 Ukraine will celebrate 22 years of the Independence. Ukraine began a new life, having a strong potential inherited from the disintegrated Soviet Union. After two decades of the intensive work in order to transform national economy to the market one and strengthening the Government structures the young country has established itself well among world nations.
Yet the country has been showing economic growth for many years running. In spite of the world financial crises Ukraine continues to show sustained development of its economy.
Now, thanks to the political stability established in the country, it has an investment climate favorable as never before. This means an opportunity to modernize the economy, introduce the latest technologies, build new factories, and create jobs. Ukraine could potentially become one of the leading countries in Europe with sufficient foreign direct and portfolio investment.
Ukraine is the important subject of the international relations. The main strategic aim of Ukraine is to become the full member of the European Union. Meanwhile, the country maintains the good relationship with all countries of the World. Today the determining of new trade and economic partners on all continents becomes one of the most important tasks for the foreign policy of the Country.
Malaysia was among the first countries, which recognized Ukraine's independence. Last year both countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral relationship.
Ukraine and Malaysia enjoy warm and friendly bilateral relations. Over the past years the Ukrainian-Malaysian collaboration has been developing successfully, especially in trade and economic areas. In particular, Ukraine has become one of the major exporters of Malaysian palm oil in the world and the largest in the Central and Eastern Europe. The bilateral cooperation in the chemical, steel and agricultural industries has been strengthened every year. During the first five months of 2013 the bilateral trade constituted about RM 918 million (Malaysian export RM 783 million and import RM 184 million).
It should be also noted active bilateral cooperation in military, technical and scientific spheres. Ukraine is one of the very few countries that can design and manufacture not only its own satellites but also rocket launchers. Two Malaysian satellites “TiungSAT-1” and “MEASAT-1” were launched by Ukrainian rockets. There are also good perspectives for the implementation of the bilateral projects in shipbuilding and aviation, as well as in the energy sector.
Ukraine and Malaysia have good experience of cooperation in higher education, during 21 years of independence in Ukrainian universities have been educated over 2,200 highly qualified Malaysian professionals. The most Ukrainian universities provide education in English for very reasonable prices. Specialists educated in Ukraine have been traditionally valued highly abroad.
To further promote tourism development in Ukraine, the Government of Ukraine since the year 2011 considerably simplifies visa procedure for Malaysian citizens. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that the Government of Ukraine has started the negotiation process on partial abolition of visa requirements with Malaysia. Now the appropriate draft Agreement is in the final stages of approval by Malaysian Side and we hope that it could be already signed by the end of this year.
From the ashes of the Soviet Empire, a new Ukraine has emerged and is taking shape as a dynamic player on the eastern frontier of the European Union. Steeped in traditions that have their roots in the centuries' old Orthodox Christian faith, Ukraine is a nation that is rapidly moving to embrace western ways, in everything from personal lifestyles to business practices. Driving this modernizing movement are legions of young people who are highly motivated to build better lives for themselves and their families in a free and independent Ukraine.
Centuries ago the capital of Ukraine – Kiev was the capital of a medieval empire that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Today's Kyiv is a city racing to catch up with the modern world. As Kyiv pushes forward with all the energy its dynamic people can muster, it pulls the whole of Ukraine with it.
Looking out across its skyline you see old and new in a modern juxtaposition that offers the best of both worlds. You see bright golden domes atop elegant churches next to smart new office buildings.
If you are the type who needs to explore the earth, discover new lands and see the world up close, Ukraine is a good choice to add to your list of destinations. It is the second largest country in Europe and offers a wide variety of nature and culture, the latter a rich vein of Slavic history and tradition.
In many ways, Ukraine is an ideal east European country to visit. For one, it is much more accessible. Kyiv is an old city with a young spirit.
Kyiv is also one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with an abundance of parks and the Dnipr running through it. In many areas the river banks have been developed as beaches, which are popular with young people in the summer. The parks, riverbanks and streets in the centre make Kyiv a great city for exploring on foot. Most of the main historical sites are in the centre or close to it, as are most good restaurants and places of entertainment.
But Ukraine is a country of many cities, each with its own history and cultural features. They are worth exploring for the stories they tell, in their people, architecture and industries, and the insights they offer into the evolution of modern Ukraine.
The western part of the country is dominated by the Carpathian Mountains, and two of the main cities in the region have rich histories as central European cities. At the foot of the mountains, 20 miles north of the Romanian border, lies Chernivtsi. It was the capital of Bukovyna, a region of the Habsburg Empire, when it was called by its German name, Czernowitz. There, in 1875, a fine university was built. It continues in use today. Incorporated into Ukraine after World War II, the town has the air of a former European centre clinging to its authentic architectural lines despite the later addition of some ungainly Soviet structures.
North is Lviv, close to the border with Poland. In ancient times Lviv was the capital of a mighty Slavic state called the Galicia-Volyn principality. Belonging first to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then Poland contributed to the formation of the city's unique character. The central part of the city, which is like an open-air museum, is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. Despite the whims of history, the city has not lost its Ukrainian spirit and today is home to some 800,000 people.
Central and Eastern Ukraine is home to some of the large industrial cities. The most central is Dnipropetrovsk, which during Soviet times was a major centre for the defense industry, including missile construction, and closed to outsiders. It is open now, but there is little for a tourist to see.
To the east is Kharkiv, a major industrial city before Soviet times and now home to 1.5 million. It is a city of broad avenues and large buildings. Historical points of interest include Pokrovsky Cathedral (late 17th century), the Uspensky Church (late 18th century), the Patriarch's Church (19th century), and a bell tower (1812) built to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon in that year. The city is the site of a university, scientific research centres, and several theatres and museums.
Donetsk, a city of one million, is a major industrial centre, and today is home to many of the successful metallurgical industries of Ukraine. Interestingly, the city was founded in 1870 when a British manufacturer, John Hughes, received a concession from the Russian government to manufacture iron rails there.
Odesa, Ukraine's main port, is the largest city in the south of Ukraine, with a population of 1.2 million. Soon after its foundation in the late 18th Century, Odesa became one of the richest cities of the Russian Empire, thanks to the excellent business sense of its people and the favourable conditions of the Porto Franco (a free port regime). Mark Twain cited the Odesa phenomenon as an example for big American cities to learn from. The city is also famous for its splendid architecture, the pearl of which is the Odesa Opera Theatre, which is considered one of the five most beautiful theatres in Europe.
And then there is Crimea. Long the primary holiday region for Russian aristocracy and, later, for Soviet leaders seeking the warmer climes of the Black Sea region, this is where Ukrainians head in droves in the summer as it has become their favourite holiday destination.
Yalta, the heart of Crimea's Southern Coast, is famous for hosting the summit of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, and Sevastopol, another major port city, is noted for almost year-long sieges during the Crimean War and Second World War.
Much of the Crimean coast is scenic, dotted with beaches and soaring cliffs. And where Ukraine meets Moldova and Romania in the Danube Delta there is one of Europe's last major wetlands, with 312 bird species and 90 species of fish.
From the Carpathians to Crimea, the mountains to the sea, there are cities steeped in the histories of Europe and Russia, Cossack horsemen and the Orthodox Church. Ukraine is a country with lovely nature and deep cultural roots. Its 45 million people have a history of much suffering but, with independence, they are energized by the will to leave that history behind and create a modern Ukraine in which the good of the past is preserved and the pain of the past can be forgotten
You can hardly find a tourist who has been to Ukraine once and did not want to came back to see it again. Therefore, we hope that more and more Malaysians will visit and enjoy their stay in Ukraine.