A strong fist to fight corruption

Poland Today kicked off its first panel at MIPIM 2018 by tackling the tough question: what challenges does Central and Eastern Europe face? Up for the challenge was the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, who admitted that his country struggles with corruption, but promised any investor willing to invest in Ukraine that he will act as a personal bodyguard.

For Poland, one of the biggest problems is preventing educated people from leaving, said the Mayor of Poznań, Jacek Jaśkowiak, so the country must improve its standards and provide a good quality of life to encourage Poles to return. However, the difference in salaries is the key factor driving people to western cities. Ukrainian immigrants make up a significant portion of the workforce in Poland, stated Jaśkowiak, to which Klitschko responded by saying this is also a huge challenge for Ukraine and in order to encourage people to return to their homeland, there needs to be good paying jobs. One initiative Klitschko mentioned is reviving the rail industry and improving transportation infrastructure.

As for Romania, the country has experienced fast growth, said Olga Melihov, Country Head at BNP Paribas Real Estate Romania, which is helping to make an impact on salaries and bringing talented people to its cities. E-commerce in particular has seen a great need and demand for space and told the audience that international names are building B2C projects as well. Another challenge, Brexit, may actually be a mistake, according to Robert Dobrzycki, CEO of Panattoni Europe, which creates opportunities for competitors if smart political decisions are not made. Partnerships with the other corner of the world also present an “opportunity and risk, but the One Belt One Road initiative is a chance for Poland, as well as for Ukraine, to cooperate with China.” He added that it’s only a question of time before the middle class from China will immigrate to Europe.

Throughout the panel, speakers cited working together as the best solution to meeting these challenges. Rather than competing, teaming up will produce positive results, they declared. Jaśkowiak, for example, said that he works with investors and together with the government, they created a project to improve air quality around schools in Poznań. Klitschko said that Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe but instability in one city can bring the whole nation down. He used the analogy of his hand to illustrate the point. Individually his five fingers are weak. Together, when formed into a fist, his hand is a powerful force.   

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Photos: Eric Megret

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