Opinion| Thank you, Daily! A brief letter from a devoted Ukrainian reader

Yevhen Mykytenko
8 Min Read

Being Ambassador of Ukraine here in Egypt between 2006 and 2010, I had the chance to witness the emergence of Daily News Egypt and to become one of its first subscribers. 

Since then, I have been following what is happening in Egypt through the lens of this daily newspaper and its website. I have remained among its regular readers during my postings in other Arabic countries as well.

Every experienced diplomat knows that anything happening in Cairo influences the whole Middle East and sometimes the whole world (no wonder they call it ‘Umm ad-Dunya’ in Arabic, or “Mother of the World”).

I was pleasantly impressed on my come-back to Egypt, in the spring of 2019, that Daily News Egypt is among those papers placed on the Ambassador’s desk every morning.

Indeed, time has flown, and times have changed, but this legendary English-language newspaper has grown from the first steps of a timid undertaking into a strong publication with powerful and independent editorial.

On its 15th anniversary, I congratulate all those involved in making this responsible and hard job, in the past and present, providing first-hand information and making exemplary journalism.

Daily News Egypt forms a critical part of the Egyptian media landscape that keeps providing information and opinion truly worth reading.

This is why I am very happy that, in spite of all challenges, Daily News Egypt is surviving this awful pandemic. In times when some publishers charge their readers for electronic access and reduce the number of pages in printed editions, Daily News Egypt manages to keep its web edition available free. This is in addition to delivering fresh newspapers on time to their subscribers. Keep up the good job, friends!

The pandemic keeps imposing further challenges. Nevertheless, in fighting them we become stronger and stronger. This also true of the Ukrainian-Egyptian partnership. In overcoming the imposed barriers, our bilateral ties become stronger and cooperation makes better.

Summarising the year that past, I cannot but express my sincere satisfaction at the progress reached in the political sphere. I believe that the friendly and constructive talk between our Presidents during their telephone conversation on 24 July 2020 strongly boosted our relations.

This came as the respective country’s Presidents acknowledged the friendly nature of Ukraine-Egypt relations, with both leaders also agreeing to exchange official visits on the highest level.

What is also worth mentioning is that Ukraine was very pleased with the successful visit of Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anani to Kyiv in July 2020. In return, there was the reception of the high Ukrainian delegation, headed by the Deputy Head of the Office of the President Ihor Zhovkva in Cairo in late October 2020.

Certainly, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has negatively affected the economies of all countries around the world. Ukrainian-Egyptian trade turnover was not an exception. 

Over the course of the last year, the total trade turnover between Ukraine and Egypt witnessed a 30% decline, yet it still amounted to the promising figure of $1.8bn, compared to the $2.6bn in 2019.

We also managed to cope with challenges in tourism, which is one of the pillars of our cooperation. Starting from 1 July 2020, Ukraine has resumed air charter flights to the Egyptian resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. 

Our tourists were the first foreign guests after the lifting of lockdowns, and there are now dozens of planes bringing Ukrainian tourists to Egypt. During 2020, more than 727,000 Ukrainian tourists spent their vacations in Egypt. 

This means Ukrainians account for the highest number of visitors from any country, making the country the number one consumer of Egyptian tourist services and thus its main investor.

Now our efforts are concentrated on preparing and holding the eighth meeting of the Intergovernmental Joint Committee on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Ukraine and Egypt. I hope that the epidemiological situation will be favourable and the meeting in Cairo will take place in late March as it was  agreed previously by two sides.

As the virus spread across the globe and many countries started to apply strict restrictions, Ukraine did not impose any export quotas on critical items for Egypt as grains. We are always ready to support food security for Egyptian people.

I think it is important to note that in addition to pure trade, we have positive examples of cooperation in other forms. The Ukrainian company Tatra-Yugalready supplied 15 trams for the Alexandria Public Transport Administration. These are the newest modern trams in terms of safety and comfort.

We also have a strong basis for renewing and expanding scientific cooperation in space technology, space exploration and use for peaceful purposes. After all, the first Egyptian artificial satellite, the EgyptSat-1, was made in Ukraine with the participation of the National Space Agency of Ukraine, the Yuzhnoye Design Office, and Egyptian engineers and technicians. 

We therefore have significant positive developments in this area between Egypt and Ukraine, which can provide a solid basis for the resumption and expansion of cooperation in space technology, research, and the peaceful use of outer space.

Actually, the story of successful scientific and industrial cooperation between our friendly nations goes back as far as the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, hundreds of Ukrainian engineers travelled to Egypt to take part in the construction of the High Dam, which marked the 50th anniversary of its opening in January this year.

At the same time, we have a potential for significant growth, especially in the sphere of investments. Now is a good time to invest in Ukraine, particularly in the development of digital technologies, telecommunications, and financial sectors, or to participate in privatisation process.

There are also many benefits to doing business in Ukraine, with detailed information now available on Ukraine via the country’s brand new official website UKRAINE.UA. There, visitors can find in depth information on travelling and studying in the country, as well as on its cultural heritage, its modern creative industries, and much more.

I take this opportunity to invite the respected readers of Daily News Egypt to visit this modern digital platform that tells a creative and inspiring story about Ukraine to foreign visitors. Here, everyone can gain his or her first impression of the country and make a decision to come to Ukraine to study, invest, or travel.

Yevhen Mykytenko, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Egypt

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