Belgian investments in Ukraine and the peculiarities of studying at Belgian universities

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How did the Ukrainian-Belgian cooperation after 1991 since Ukraine became an independent state start?

– Belgium is one of the first countries that recognized Ukraine’s state independence. We have always considered Ukraine as full member of a large European family. Due to tragic circumstances, Ukraine was separated from the European family. In 1991, the long and difficult journey of your return to Europe began, and I may assure you that Belgium is your reliable friend and assistant on this path. We are ready to come to the rescue by providing an advice, but we also understand that Ukrainians are a great and wise people, and so our advices should only be advices, not orders.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, what areas of our bilateral relations can be considered priorities? Why?

– Our bilateral cooperation is the cooperation of two independent European countries. It consists of political, economic and humanitarian blocs. In addition, I would like to emphasize that Belgium is a country where the leading and governing institutions of the European Union are located, and that is why cooperation between Ukraine and Belgium is, at the same time, a cooperation between Ukraine and whole Europe. I believe that this factor in our cooperation makes it stronger and builds up our contacts. All of the aforementioned areas of Ukrainian-Belgian cooperation can be considered as priority, because the political, economic and humanitarian areas of our cooperation are very closely related and the same applies to cooperation in the Ukraine-Belgium-European Union triangle.

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Before 1917, Belgium actively invested in the economy of the south and east of modern Ukraine. What is the state of Belgian investment now?

– Economy is a cornerstone of our cooperation. By far, the amount of financial investment we had in the economy of the Ukrainian South-East prior to 1917 far exceeds the current investment portfolio of Belgian business in Ukraine. Why? There are several answers. First, the Ukrainian lands belonged to the Pan-European economic system by 1917.

To put it simply, the western rules of doing business existed in the Ukrainian lands then. So far, we see only a partial return of and partial compliance with these rules in Ukraine. However, I would like to point out that every year this return shows more and more positive changes, and observance of these rules ceases to be partial. Secondly, modern southeastern Ukraine is either front-line zone or a zone close to the front. And this – you will agree – complicates investment processes. However, we understand and welcome the inevitability of positive change throughout Ukraine.

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Belgian investments in Ukraine and the peculiarities of studying at Belgian universities

Which specialties are studied at Belgian universities by Ukrainian students? After all, studying in Belgium is in demand in Ukraine

– This is true. Every year, we see a positive and significant increase in the number of young Ukrainians who acquire specialties at Belgian universities, which are mainly in the field of economic sciences. Belgium is one of the recognized leaders in European and world quality education. In addition, we should be aware that economic disciplines related to the study of laws and parameters of the development of a free market economy have not been studied in Ukraine during Soviet times. Undoubtedly, the fact that studying at Belgian universities implies a great deal of cultural diversity cannot be completely neglected. Many young people from all over the world study in Belgium, and young Ukrainians have the opportunity to learn more about and explore not only the culture of Belgium and its inhabitants.

What does attract the young Ukrainians in Belgian universities in your opinion?

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– Our education is based on collaboration between a student and a teacher. The teacher is not a supervisor. The teacher is an advisor and friend who helps, not compels. Our universities, which are one of the oldest in Europe and in the world, encourage strongly the creative and scientific activity of students. Perhaps this is the answer to your question.

Are Belgium people interested in the events in Ukraine?

– Certainly, the tragic events of 2014, the events of Euromaidan, the events related to the fighting in the east of your country did not leave my countrymen indifferent. You know, the idea of a united Europe, the idea of a united European family is sometimes crushed by criticism in many EU countries, and so the determination and dedication of Ukrainians who risked their own lives to become part of united Europe cannot fail to find a response in every Belgian heart.

What would you like to wish the readers of our edition?

– First of all, I want to wish faith and courage. The faith in the great future of your country, and the courage to withstand the trials that every country that has a great future goes through.