Lviv Convention Bureau continues to tell international partners about what is happening in Ukraine, in Lviv; to explain why it is necessary to stop doing business with russian companies, and most importantly – how to help Ukraine today.  We launched a series of interviews “Industry talks during the war” with international and Ukrainian experts in the exhibition industry. The initiative is dedicated to coincide with the Global Exhibition Day. The following video with Valeriy Pekar – the president of the exhibition company “Euroindex”, the chairman of the supervisory board of the exhibition center “KyivExpoPlaza”, board’s member of the world association of the exhibition industry UFI.

Today we communicate with Valeriy Pekar. We are pleased to welcome you to our project “Industry Talks during the war”. Let’s start with the simplest and most interesting, with a congratulation on the release of the book. You already pointed out in our conversation that this is not only your book, that this is such a collection of essays by leading intellectuals, scientists. Tell me please about this book. What is its main value to you? Why is it important for Ukrainians to read it now?

The idea was to try to explore how we want to see the future of Ukraine. The idea started a long time ago, in 2020. I appealed to several philosophers, scientists to write short essays. Then there were more and more of them. My friend Vladyslav Rashkovan and I decided that we should make a book, because this is an artifact that can be on the shelves of libraries, which can be in people’s desktops. This is better than just distinguishing essays that are scattered around the Internet.

And we turned to very different people: philosophers, economists, sociologists, psychologists, religious and spiritual leaders, moral authorities, people who joined their time to make independent Ukraine, very young people who represent the next generation, entrepreneurs, journalists, writers, poets, very different people who are united by only one thing. We know that they have something to say, that they are anxious about the future of Ukraine. We asked them what the future Ukraine should be like, how to find the right balance between the state and society, what values to take into the future, what values to reject or change, because they (values) prevent us from moving; what unites us, what separates us, whom we want to be like, from whom we want to be different. We thought about taking about 70 essays first, but then we liked the beautiful number 100. Of course, to collect 100 essays, you need to contact 250 people. Someone will write, and someone won’t. As a result, when there were already 100, the essays continued to arrive. A total of 124 applications were received. We decided to take an absolutely not round number and pack it.

The book was fully prepared in February of this year. Then there was what everyone knows (war). Sometime in April, Vladyslav and I asked ourselves whether someone needed it now, because everything has changed. We just reread all the essays back then. When we reread, we realized that there was an even greater need for the book. At the same time, some people changed their positions, and some changed their point of view for some things. Many things now look different, but in general this dialogue is much needed. In Ukraine, there is a lack of dialogues about the main thing. We believe that everything is clear. It is clear what Ukraine is, it is clear who Ukrainians are, it is clear what the future is, what the Ukrainian order should be, the Ukrainian economy, Ukrainian education… But nothing is clear, really. 

And we need to talk about it. Many topics are taboo in the environment of intellectuals, or many intellectuals simply do not think it is necessary to express themselves publicly. We decided to break it by opening such a broad dialogue. This book is a provocation, an invitation to dialogues (private and public) about what Ukraine should be, what Ukraine we want to build. This is also about the past – where our roots are growing from, what we can build on, thanks to which values Ukrainians survived, became what they are, and about the present – what to do now and about the future – what we want to do, what country we want to see and what to do for this, what we lack, what we do wrong.

When we started collecting essays, we asked more or less the same questions to everyone, but everyone wrote about anything. Absolutely different things were written about. We began to think that everything was gone, that there was no dialogue. Then the law of large numbers worked. When there were many essays, it became clear that this is Ukraine – such a diverse dialogue, with a willingness to hear each other, while having their own positions. We had a challenge – all these 124 essays should be placed in such a way that the book looks like a dialogue. In April, when we realized that the book should be published, we turned to the publisher, the Kharkiv publishing house “Folio”. The publisher decided to publish the book at his own risk. The risk was correct, because the book had not yet been printed, and hundreds of people had already ordered it and paid for it. There is a great need for such a dialogue.

The book is not a finished artifact. It is a provocation to dialogues: in private kitchens, in public classrooms of universities, or somewhere else. It (book) asks a lot of questions, gives very few finished answers and a lot of provocations to opinions. We are very glad that such a book comes out. We hope that many people will read it in order to reflect. When the person ponderes, this is where the germination of the future begins.

After February 24, everyone felt, and everyone says that Ukraine has changed, that Ukrainian society has changed. In your opinion, what changes are these? Can you identify the 3-4 key areas of these changes, explain in more detail what you see in these societal changes of Ukrainians?

At the first joint conference of the UCU (Ukrainian Catholic University) and the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, fifty leading Ukrainian philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, economists, and cultural figures made such a map of changes in Ukrainian society. They’ve written out the main changes you’re asking about. There are more than a hundred of them (changes). If to take what I think is most important, there are a few important things to remember. First, Ukrainians showed incredible resilience. Resistance not only in the sense of resistance, but also in the sense of resilience, that is internal resilience. This also applies to the state. If our state was so weak and failed, as Russian propagandists say, it would not resist, it would collapse. All state bodies worked, both society and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This is an absolute miracle in which the Armed Forces of Ukraine were able to effectively resist the world’s second largest army. You don’t have to laugh at the Russian size here. You can laugh at their skill level, the level of strategic troop management, but their size is really shocking. It’s a huge bunch of poorly trained people. It’s a huge pile of old iron (weapon), but it’s incredible in size. 

We are proud of the heroism and passion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thanks to them. But it should be understood that behind the Armed Forces of Ukraine there is a Ukrainian society that supports them. Without that, there would be no resilience of the Armed Forces. And business resilience. See how in the hardest times, even in cities that were under attack, bread was baked and brought into shops. The stores worked, and the banks gave cash, and worked with credit cards. Also, trolleybuses were going, the internet was working, and coffee was pouring in. Business has shown incredible resilience. There was a meeting of the Lviv IT Cluster, where we summed up the study about what happened to the information technology industry in Ukraine in general, and Western Ukraine separately. Western Ukraine is more than Galicia. It included the Volyn region, Transcarpathia and Bukovyna. The study revealed the industry’s fantastic resilience. This also applies to other sectors. Resilience is the first very important thing. We didn’t think of ourselves like that, we didn’t think we were like that (with such resilience). We have not yet realized at the expense of what this has happened. 

The second important thing is initiation. See what’s happening in the modern world. There is no ritual of a young man or girl turning into an adult, responsible, self-inflicted condition of a man or woman that was characteristic of all the tribes of antiquity, the original tribes that, incidentally, still live in this original condition. This means that the passport is simply automatically issued when a certain age is reached. All this means that there are a huge number of under-age adults around us. Our society is largely made up of people who, at the age of thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, remain children. They are socially handicapped. They are constantly shaking their heads on all sides, looking for someone to take responsibility for their life. And then they vote in elections. The number of people self-inflicted and self-responsible who passed this initiation is not very large. Yes, of course, in 2014, during the Maidan, the war, many people passed this initiation. There are people who have passed at the expense of their own achievements. For example, entrepreneurs are self-inflicted people. Also, volunteers are people who take responsibility for a huge number of different people, problems. But it wasn’t a critical mass. Now there is a fantastic initiation of tens, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. We will be after that (after war) in a very different country, much older (wiser) country. This does not mean that everyone will immediately become adults. There will just be more of them. This is the second important thing. 

The third important thing is unity. We are used to dividing regions: good or bad, first or second grade and so on. Now we see that there is absolute unity among all cities, all regions of Ukraine in terms of what to do and how to do it, in terms of key values, key principles and vision of our Ukrainian future. Almost all the strife has stopped. Well, of course, you can go to Facebook, which is the largest gathering of hysterics in the history of the world, there you will see strife on any occasion. But society as a whole is characterized by a very high degree of unity. And this reminds me of the great American political scientist Samuel Huntington, who very carefully justified that Ukraine cannot exist.

Many American, European, and other world politicians, journalists and intellectuals are essentially his scientists. They come from about the same reasons. This reminds me of a student joke about a bumblebee that can’t fly by the law of aerodynamics, but it does. And then the problem is not a bumblebee, but the problem of the laws of aerodynamics. That is, the fact that Ukraine exists is the problem of Huntington and his students. But at the same time, we are facing a problem. We need to explain to the world why we exist. They are certain that there can be no such thing.

I’ve already gone beyond the question you posed. The world understands what that terrible future world would look like, in which Russia has won. Needless to say, this is a world in which the right of the strong is guaranteed, where the nuclear power allows itself anything. A world in which there is no free trade, which means that the world is getting poorer and hundreds of millions of people are starting to starve. Such is the picture of a terrible world, where Russia wins, they understand. But they do not understand the world in which Ukraine wins. Because of this, they do not do enough to make Ukraine win. They don’t really understand what it’s going to look like, what the world is going to be like. We can talk about changes for hours, because there are many of them. They are important. 

We have the main front on which Ukrainian boys and girls fight. And we have a second-third front. We often call it diplomatic, economic. You often write about it in your Facebook posts, talk about it in your speeches. You also cooperate in this direction with various organizations, discuss very much the economic modernization of Ukraine, you wrote about the government plan presented in Switzerland, in Lugano. What would a new Ukraine after the war look like, a new powerful economically strong Ukraine? What are your first steps in this direction, as a person who works in this industry, who is an entrepreneur? 

The entire economic policy of post-war Ukraine, which will be successful, can be based on three key values: will, person, responsibility. Will means maximum economic freedom. I’ll talk about it in more detail. Person means that at the center of the economy is a person, that person is the main creator of added value, which in the economy will turn into added cost. Responsibility means that the person is responsible for himself and his family. The state cares only for those who can’t do anything for themselves.

Will, person and responsibility are three principles and values that are opposite to the values on which the present economic policy is based. For now, economic policy is based on three other opposing values. Instead of will, there is the state. The state is the main economic player. The State has a major role to play. Instead of a person – assets. Today the economy is based on the fact that there are large economic assets left over from the Soviet Union. They are the main source of added value. Paternalism. The state is good. It takes care of everyone, gives a little something to eat, and everyone is happy.

We are now pursuing a policy that leads us to hell because it is based on opposing values that should be. The basic key thing here is economic freedom. So what does that mean? This means that the economy is based on the role of the entrepreneur as the creator of innovation, as the creator of added value. The state does not interfere in the economy, focuses (the state) on creating equal, transparent, fair and the same rules of the game for all. This is fundamentally the opposite of what is happening now. Ukraine now ranks 130th place in the world in terms of economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation rating. Let us be frank that such a country cannot win the war. Such a country has no chance of recovering from the war. The last place in the world, the last place in Europe, the 130th place in the world among the states whose names do not even want to be spoken, because these are the states that it associates with everything bad. And we are among them.

Why? This happened because the government, the parliament, and the president’s office are now dominated by people and previously dominated by people who have three main values: the state, paternalism and assets instead of the three values of the future: will, person, responsibility. They, no longer having the opportunity to introduce socialism here, continue to think as socialist. I would not even use the word socialism here, because it is a bit emotionally colored and associated with the Soviet Union. I would use the French word «dirigisme». It refers to the economic policy that was pursued in France after the Second World War, as a result of which France began to decline. It was necessary that people with liberal views came, established a high level of economic freedom, and raised France. Dirigisme is about our hands touching everything. And the state would have to remove the hands from the economy. And then everything will be very good.

If we look at the list of the happiest countries in the world, if we look at the list of the richest countries in the world, if we look at the ranking of economic freedom in the world, we see almost a coincidence. 

Today many different conferences are taking place around the world, which deal with the modernization of the country, its economic recovery. We have already mentioned the conference in Lugano. Your colleague also published an infographic about how many conference events dedicated to these topics took place in the five months of the war. What do you think is good about all these events? What good do they do us? What disadvantages do they have? 

Speaking of a specific conference in Lugano, I wrote about it separately. There I sorted out all the good and the bad. If we talk about the whole process, there is one good thing and one bad thing. The good thing is that we are gradually, step by step, getting closer to understanding (I mean Ukraine and our international partners) how to build an architecture for financing the rebuilding of Ukraine’s future. And this is good, because this is one of the most difficult projects – the reconstruction of Ukraine. This is one of the biggest, most challenging projects on the planet in the last half-century. From one conference to another, it becomes a little bit more transparent, clearer. What’s wrong? Our international partners have not been convinced that the Ukrainian authorities understand well enough what is required of them, how to do it. And they (international partners) are disappointed that this movement is very slow, that Ukraine does not guarantee the key values that Western Europe requires of Ukraine in this process. 

And in Lugano, a declaration was adopted that contained the fixed principles. Ukraine has signed this agreement together with the governments of all those countries that want to help Ukraine and representatives of international organizations. And of course, among these principles there are understandable principles of transparency and accountability, which not all managers in Ukraine like. There are also principles of decentralization, maximum participation of local communities, which is also not pleasant to many people, because they would like to collect everything in one agency, to run all the money there and share it. There are principles of participation of all stakeholders, which means the great role of private business, public organizations, universities, local communities, their leaders and so on. Well, of course, there are also understandable basic solid principles of Western civilization: human rights, inclusion, gender equality, sustainable development and other things on which Western Civilization and the free world stand today. Movement is good, but too slow. At some moment, the war will end with a Ukrainian victory, and there will be no money. We’re moving too slowly. This will be unpleasant.

The infographics showed that all these conferences took place mainly, either in European or other countries. Only, it seems, one or two conferences took place in Ukraine. In Lviv, there are also various conferences on this topic, initiated by UCU, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. But for the most part, such major economic events about Ukraine with Ukrainian representatives take place abroad. As a Lviv Convention Bureau, we are interested in attracting such international events to Lviv. Obviously, now, because of security issues, organizers can’t take risks. Although Lviv is recognized as a rare city. We can’t just wait. Still, we believe that it is necessary to continue to involve all sorts of events. At first – for a smaller format. We cannot afford huge events because of the lack of infrastructure. I mean, Lviv doesn’t have a congress hall for big events. How should we work under these conditions? How to cooperate with international partners, talk about the fact that they can choose Lviv as the place for their next conference?

If we talk about international conferences of this format, then various governments of Western countries and donor countries of Ukraine are responsible for them (international conferences). They’re just doing it (conferences) on their own territory. Well, logistically it is easier for them. Logistically, it is easier for everyone to fly, for example, to London, than to fly everyone to, for example, Krakow, and then go to Przemysl, and then to Lviv. But anyway, I think that the events will gradually be revived in Ukraine. It’s not just about Lviv. And I think that in other cities we can gradually start doing something. Firstly local and then national scale. And then we’ll see.

It seems to me that now the Lviv Convention Bureau and other similar organizations in other cities of Ukraine can be less successful in bringing real events to their cities. This is in terms of logistical considerations. This will be very difficult, that is, the amount of effort per participant will be too high. We have to do a slightly different thing. We need to take advantage of the fact that today Ukraine is the number one brand in the world. We dreamed a lot about Ukraine’s brand being high. It didn’t happen in the way we thought and dreamed. It happened in a very bad, bloody way. But Ukraine has been on the first sleepers for 5 months.

And the fact that Ukraine wins, the fact that Ukraine demonstrates such resilience and strength, contributes to the fact that the Ukrainian brand is very popular. This means that it is now possible to advance Ukrainian interests very strongly. This means that now any marketing message coming from Ukraine will be accepted differently. Ukraine will not be on this top for a long time. You can’t be at the top of the glory all the time, because there’s something going on all the time in the world, and someone else is demonstrating something. In addition, there are countries with very powerful brands. But we should take advantage of this little window of opportunity to explain to the world that we’re here, and we have something interesting. This means that at the moment when it will be safe, logistically convenient, at the moment when the war ends, the sky opens, the Lviv airport opens, at this moment it is necessary to create a maximum wave of all those who are interested in Ukraine.

Now everything Ukrainian is very well sold: food, furniture, fashion, services, computer games, etc. Tourism a little later. I am sure that the wave of incoming tourism to Ukraine, including business tourism, including conference tourism, will be very large, but this is only when the security and logistics issue is resolved. At the same time, we still understand that we need to prepare for this.

Lviv needs a modern congress center. I’ve been talking about this for years. I have been doing this for many years, and have made many attempts to somehow start it in Lviv. Both local business and local authorities fully share these intentions. Eventually we have to get to the point where the first stone is laid. Then the last nail will be hammered and it will open. Of course, a city like Lviv on the congress map of Europe deserves a much more worthy place. The same applies to many other cities of Ukraine.

Today, the exhibition and congress business has collapsed in Ukraine, with the exception of Kyiv and Lviv over the past five-six years. And it’s not the war’s fault, and it’s not even the covid’s fault. There are many other problems. One of which is capital investment. We need to build, we need to invest, and this is embedded in the investment climate, in economic freedom. And economic freedom ultimately runs into fair courts, in the first place. And we have tremendous problems with that. Now we are experiencing a key moment in Ukrainian history in terms of the possibility of purging judges. It is already evident that this will not happen. And this means that Ukraine will remain with dishonest judges for the next generation, for the next ten years. Now the Ukrainian authorities are doing everything possible to violate the European principles for the selection of judges. It affects and determines the business climate. 

We understand that major conferences will not come to Lviv. But the conference industry is about a long perspective. Supervisory boards, boards of large international associations that organize events, decide to hold the event in one place or another two or three years in advance. A number of international congresses were postponed because of the quarantine in Lviv. Because of the war, we also have postponed the events. Not canceled, but postponed for a year or two. This decision demonstrates support for Ukraine. For example, the board of the international congress concerning chemistry reported that the event would still take place in Lviv after the victory. 

Still, we clearly understand that the threat from Russia will not get anywhere. We will be in this condition for a certain period of time. For example, we talked to the Jerusalem Convention Bureau, asked how they in a state of constant threat still attract international events. They replied that they had learned to live with it, learned to communicate in a way that they were heard.

When we communicate with our international partners, we understand that they, of course, understand as much as possible what is happening in Ukraine, they follow the development of events. But they are not in a hurry to declare their support for the future recovery of the industry, which would be best for us – the events in Ukraine. What messages should we communicate to give them confidence, to encourage them to hold events in Ukraine, in Lviv?

Let’s start with the safety stuff. It is not very correct to compare Israel and Ukraine. Israel is confronted by individual terrorist organizations that are so-so armed. Ukraine is opposed by the world’s second largest army. This army is high-tech enough. They haven’t fired everything they could yet. There’s just a little bit left. But it will soon be over. This means that the iron dome that closes Israel’s sky from those improvised missiles made by terrorists will not protect against supersonic Russian-made missiles. After all, there is a war in Ukraine. Missiles can fly anywhere. To conclude with a security question, I will say something. As long as Russia is an empire, it will pose a threat to Ukraine’s existence. It’s a very clear thing. Even if the last Russian soldier leaves the last square meter of Ukrainian territory, including the occupied areas of 2014, including Crimea, this is not a final victory. Russia will return. The Empire always comes back to strike back, as we know not only from Star Wars, but from history.

For example, during the first and second Chechen wars. There is only one way out so that there is no constant war for every generation in Ukrainian history, so that our boys and girls do not have to fight in every generation. Our victory means that Russia as an empire must cease to exist forever. There can be no such country on earth. This is due to political changes in Russia itself. This is a thing that, unfortunately, many Ukrainians and Ukrainians are not aware of. Russia’s defeat is forged on the battlefield by the dynamic Armed Forces of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian victory is forged in the Kremlin. Russia is already failing on the battlefield. It is clear. So that it does not come back again and again, it is necessary that Russia collapses. This means that our task is to support the national movements of those oppressed colonized indigenous people of Russia who create their own national states. They will dismantle the Russian Federation (the so-called one, because it is not a federation, but a Russian empire) into 20-30 parts, creating their own national states, with which Ukraine, in the vast majority, will have good relations. Then all this will not pose any threat to Ukraine, Europe, or the world.

As long as there is a Russian empire, it is a threat. This process will be long. It can start at any moment. I am sure that certain movements will begin soon. A declaration on the decolonization of Russia has already been signed by representatives of the national movements of many Russian people. They are not even rightly called Russian people. I would say the people of the post-Russian space by analogy with the post-Soviet space. It will be a space on which dozens of independent states will be formed. This process will not be the same as the collapse of the Soviet Union – once and for all it has broken down into 15 new independent states. This process will be long. It may take 10-15 years from the time the first flag is raised in some one capital to the time when everything is arranged in this post-Russian space. And during all this time, missiles can fly anywhere in Ukraine. You have to be conscious of it.

Of course, our air defense will be more and more effective, more and more equipped, armed, trained. I’m constantly asked when everything will be fine, when everything will finally be over. I always answer that everything will be fine soon, but it will never end. That is, there will be no restful life. We will never return to the point of February 23, the point that preceded the annexation of Crimea. We live on the front. We live on the border between civilization and barbarism. The barbarism will persist until the whole space is in order, and the newly independent states that will emerge there will fall into the orbit of the values of freedom, democracy, a free world.

Now, for the online. The advantage of our business, our very great strength is that online events does not solve the problems facing the meeting industry. The huge investments that were thrown into virtual exhibitions, in the latest things, show that we are the same homosapians that about seventy thousand years ago formed the first communities of modern people, began to paint something on the walls of caves, and created culture. Anthropologists hold different viewpoints when this happens. The vast majority of anthropologists believe that about sixty thousand years ago modern humanity emerged, which is now with language, culture. And this means the ability to pass on knowledge, to pass on values, to pass on collective perceptions through the generations. It makes a person human. God’s spark, which even the most intelligent animals don’t have. We’re the same homosapians that a thousand years ago told each other stories around wealth. And that means we need to be in the same physical space. We need to cuddle, smile, clap our shoulders, look in the eyes, feel the chemistry of personal relationships, which is based only on simple human friendship, not just love (it is very difficult to love online), but on which the business is based.

Business is about trust, about reducing transaction costs (I am already speaking in formal language) based on the fact that people share common values and are in a common system of trust. And all this is possible only with personal contacts that give congresses, conferences, exhibitions, fairs, forums and so on. It will be necessary. This is one of the industries in the future. It’s people-business. It’s about people. Person remains a person. This does not mean that there will be no online. There will be more online. And there will be more alive. The intensity of communication has been increasing incredibly for all the last tens, hundreds of years. Our ancestors actually communicated several hours a day in a limited environment of the same people: relatives, neighbors. We communicate almost 24/7, simultaneously through several channels: live, online. The intensity of communication will continue even more. We will be in constant contact with the nearest and most important people. This applies not only to relatives, but also to loved ones. This also applies to those people with whom we do business, volunteering or some kind of research, or something else important. We are more and more involved in this contact. It’s not just about online, it’s about physical contact. This means that our industry model was born a long time ago. It is one of the industries of the future.

What’s going on in your business right now? I mean the exhibition center “KyivExpoPlaza”, which is located in Kyiv region, was under occupation. How did you reformat the work? What about employees?

By God’s miracle, the exhibition center stood, although the battle was literally hundreds of meters away from us. Of course, a bunch of all sorts of weapons flew into the territory. Injuries are minimal. We have already fixed everything, completed the repairs. Of course, when it «got hot», we did our best to keep our people safe. The occupants entered the exhibition center, but the injuries were minimal. They broke the glass there, broke the doors, opened the drawers, moved the tank electric shield on the territory. All this is minimal damage. We fixed it.

Of course, there can be no exhibition business, no our brand exhibitions, no forums during the war. And we started with simple things, drawing primarily on the experience of those world exhibition centers that survived the war. I spoke with colleagues from Libya, from Iraqi Kurdistan. The first thing we need is construction goods fairs. The huge Northeast sector of Kyiv, where the Buchatsky district is located, has been badly affected. A huge recovery is needed there now. And that’s what we called the exhibition center – the hub of a great building restoration. There will be a permanent fair for the sale of construction goods and various engineering systems. Every day there will be a bazaar, and every week there will be a large fair of everything that is needed for reconstruction.

We also add things that serve communities. The basis for recovery is the communities, not the government. Communities and people on the ground know what needs to be done. We began to make arrangements for representatives of united territorial communities, for mayors of cities, for heads of communities, and for those people and teams who work with them. This is primarily knowledge and experience.

We offer the best experience and knowledge in technical, engineering, legal, project, management areas. Everything you need to rebuild. And then, we hope that we will move on to our branded exhibitions, to the restoration of work. Today, the work we do is volunteering. It’s not a business, it’s not a commercial job. The main thing is that we managed to keep the teams – a team of the exhibition center (as commercial real estate) and a team that organizes events. We hope that our Ukrainian military, diplomatic successes will eventually lead to the fact that Ukrainian business will be restored at a very rapid pace. We believe in economic freedom, we work for it to come. This means that the pace of recovery will be very high. If Ukraine fulfills its international obligations, Ukraine will receive huge money for reconstruction. We’re working to make it happen. 

In May we (team of Lviv Convention Bureau) returned from IMEX. Many topics were discussed there. One of them is the return of the industry to 2019 figures. They mentioned that the industry must transform, come to new senses. In Ukraine there is war, covid, economic unfreedom. How should we involve events in these conditions? The funds may come to Ukraine, but we do not have the infrastructure, and most likely in the near future, for example, we will not have a congress hall in Lviv. 

I am sure that there will be a congress center in Lviv. By the way, my vision is that it should be a multifunctional transformer center, which is both a sports center, a concert center, an exhibition center, and a congress center for city events. This is a variable space that allows you to load one commercial property as much as possible throughout the year. This means giving the investor a normal return on investment.

I’m looking at Iraqi Kurdistan, northern Iraq. There is chaos on the territory, but there is already a new exhibition center on that small site, on a small territory that has order. It’s a new building, a new business. I’m sure you’ll have it. What do we need to do? We need the maximum promotion of Ukraine in the world and the unification of Ukrainian business. Specifically speaking, a Lviv congress center or a multifunctional transformer center is a union of Lviv business with the Lviv local government, with the Lviv community, with the Lviv cultural figures in order to create this project. We need a project. We need to finally start doing something. Buy a lottery ticket, like in that old joke. I hope everyone who is listening to us now knows this joke. I won’t tell you. We need a place. We need a project. We need a clear understanding of what it will look like, what the business plan is, how much investment is needed, and how it will pay off. While none of this is there, one can only dream, imagine a picture. We need to take the first concrete steps to make this happen. And then, at some point, for every hryvnia that Lviv entrepreneurs brought and put in the authorized capital of this center, there will be a hundred hryvnias that foreign investors will bring. 

The sixth month of the war. We’re exhausted. The economy is depleting. Where do you get the energy to move on to resist Russian aggression? It is psychologically difficult to constantly be in such a stream of negative news, to know that relatives are dying, that loved ones are at the front. How do you respond to everything? How do you find the power to move on?

There are a few things here. First of all, it’s a marathon. Anyone who keeps running a hundred meters can just die. That’s the end of it. It’s a marathon and it needs different thoughts, different breathing, different metabolism, different strategy, different way to move. Even if the war stops tomorrow morning because Putin dies (hundreds of people around the world want it), reconstruction begins, and then reconstruction of the post-Russian space begins. It will continue and will continue to pose challenges for Ukraine. This is a process that is dangerous for us, although necessary.

It’s a marathon. What’s helping here? Thinking about the future, projecting it. We need to dive into the future, not the past. Helping others and accepting help from others. A lot of people have already learned to do the first one (help others), but with the second one – you still need to study. We need to build on the past, but believe in the future, constantly do something for the future, take some things from the future. If you want the future to come, then take some things from the future and do them now, install them in the present.

If you feel unwell, do something for others. You’ll feel better. This is called resilience. We need to understand that you are not in control of everything, that there are risks that you are not in control of, that the future is uncertain, that with uncertainty nothing can be done. People are very fond of certainty. We will be defeated, but in the end we will win. We’re going to fall, but eventually we’re going to rise. It’s called resilience and impersonal.

You have to stop being afraid, say goodbye to your fear, or conquer it. We live on the front. Anything can happen at any moment. Well, of course, it is worth mentioning passion, loyalty to your people, your brands, your values, your ideals, your dreams for the future. You can talk about it a lot too. There are simple things that help you to live and achieve some results.