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Israel and Ukraine will always be friends, Israeli Ambassador says

Israel and Ukraine will always be friends, Israeli Ambassador says
Article by: Victoria Dubiv & Tetiana Gaiduk
In the second part of their interview with Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine Mr. Joel Lion, Kyiv not Kiev finds that:

  • Israel remains closed to all foreigners. The Israeli government approved fines for visits to countries from the list which includes countries with the highest risk of infection;
  • Israeli investments in Ukraine’s economy were fostered by Free Trade Agreement between two countries, but investors still primarily fear Ukraine’s judiciary;
  • There are more than 6,600 startups in Israel while Ukraine has about 2,000 startups. Ukrainian and Israeli IT specialists closely cooperate.

When Ukrainians will be able to go to Israel

Recently Ukrainian media published controversial news regarding Israel opening its borders to Ukrainians. However, Mr. Ambassador highlighted – there has been a misunderstanding.

“Israel is closed to all foreigners,” stressed Mr Lion.

The recent news was related to some special requests for entry which may help a person married to an Israeli or a parent of an Israeli citizen. He stated, however, that on July 1, Israel will open its doors for the list of countries from which vaccinated tourists will be allowed to come to Israel. And no, Ukraine is not one of those countries.

Let us remind you that the State of Israel has a special list of countries with a high incidence of Covid-19, trips to which aren’t recommended. The list includes Uganda, Uruguay, the United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Namibia, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Tunisia. If the situation does not change for the better, the travel to these territories will require permission from the government.

On June 27, the Israeli government approved the imposition of a fine for visits to countries included by the Ministry of Health in the list of countries with the highest risk of infection. Travel to such a country will cost 5,000 shekels (approximately 1,300 euros).

Interestingly, Israel does exercise strict control over compliance with anti-epidemic measures. Recently, eight Israelis tried to fly out of the country to Russia without obtaining permission from a special commission.

The Israeli Border Police removed all eight people from the flight and handed them over to the Israeli police for further consideration. The Ministry of Health of Israel also includes Russia in the list of countries to which flight is prohibited due to the high risk of coronavirus infection.

Why Israeli investors don’t want to come to Ukraine

According to the National Bank of Ukraine, Israeli direct investment in Ukraine’s economy as of 2020 amounted to $ 68,700,000. The main spheres of investments are real estate transactions, information, and communication, recycling industry.

All in all, Ukrainian-Israeli relations are steadily developing in trade and business fields. However, not everything is as simple as it may seem. Israel and Western partners of Ukraine draw our government’s attention to the need for a strong and stable judicial system.

“They are still scared,” stated the Ambassador about Israeli investors.

Mr. Lion gave an example: people are scared to buy something and then have somebody coming to a judge who will take away everything. He, however, highlighted that Ukraine is working on it, trying to reform the country, to have better transparency and less corruption. The necessary and the most significant thing is a strong judiciary. Because when people see a judicial system, they can trust, they will invest money.

On the Free Trade Agreement’s first outcomes

“This is a new level of relations between the countries and a green light to increase Ukrainian exports, closer cooperation in the fields of high-tech, engineering, development of investment cooperation,” once wrote President Zelenskyy.

It’s been half a year since the FTA entered into force. Mr. Ambassador emphasized that it is hard to see something right now, as the Agreement only recently has become effective. According to him, the Governments’ role was to ease the world of business, and there is nothing to do for now.

“You can bring the calb to a cow, but he has to drink for himself,” stated the Ambassador.

However, “there is always room for improvement,” Mr. Lion is convinced, so now entrepreneurs examine further needs in Ukraine and Israel to make business relations even more satisfactory and profitable. The Ukrainian and Israeli Governments hope that people will take this opportunity to develop our bilateral relations and use them for the better.

Ukraine is also making its steps to improve knowledge of both sides on the FTA advantages. For example, the Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Israel organizes different seminars, webinars about the Free Trade Agreement, and new business prospects. The purpose is to present the economic potential and discuss options for economic cooperation between the two countries.

On Ukraine becoming a startup nation

Israel has 7th place in the Bloomberg ranking of innovative states, while Ukraine ranks 58th. In 2019 Israeli tech firms raised a record $8.3 billion. The Ukrainian ones gathered half a billion – $510 million. There are more than 6,600 startups in Israel while Ukraine has about 2,000 startups. These are only a few mentions of the power of the Israeli digital sector.

“You have 15,000 Ukrainians who are working for Israeli IT companies and staying in Ukraine,” said Mr Ambassador.

He thinks that it is suitable for Ukraine too. Because thanks to their experience in Israeli tech giants, they can build their businesses here in Ukraine using that knowledge.

So, what can Ukraine do to become a real startup nation? Mr. Lion explained the Israeli variant of becoming a startup superpower. The Israeli way was to create a unique system: joint organic work of the universities, public and private sectors, and the army.

On joint history

One of the first “Kyiv” mentions can be found in the document called “Kyivan letter.” It is the earliest evidence of Jewish presence in Kyiv dating back to the 10th century. It is an appeal to the Jewish communities of the world to help their fellow believer to avoid debt slavery.

The Ambassadors point is that no matter how differently we see our history and how sensitive some issues may be, “Israel and Ukraine are and always will be friends.” So many centuries of everyday life prove that like nothing else.

Victoria Dubiv is a Project Manager at TRUMAN Agency, Editor of KYIV NOT KIEV


Tetiana Gaiduk is Creative Services Director at TRUMAN Agency, Co-founder and co-host at KYIV NOT KIEV


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