IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger visited the capital of Western Ukraine:
While the Eastern part of the Ukraine continues under war-like conditions and the Ukrainian government in Kiev is in a deep crisis, the situation in Western Ukraine is of political stability and characterized by an economic boom. This is the picture of the Ukraine that IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger got during his two-day-visit to Lviv upon the invitation of Mayor Andriy Sadovyy from 17 to 19 February 2016.
The city of Lviv, which has more than 700,000 inhabitants, has built a new modern international airport and a big football stadium for the European Football Championship, which took place in 2012.
At a meeting with the mayor Sadovyy, Schausberger was told that the biggest problems in the Ukraine are corruption and the influence of oligarchs who virtually determine everything in the country. Therefore, Sadovyy, who for almost ten years holds the position of mayor, decided in 2004 to found the public association “Samopomitsch” (Self-Help), which in 2013 became a political party and was elected third strongest party in the last parliamentary elections. The party’s main objective is the elimination of corruption and curbing the influence of the oligarchs. The reason why Sadovyy’s party withdrew its confidence from the government was because the government had promised to fight against these two problems but so far has done nothing.
The war in Eastern Ukraine is barely noticeable in Lviv, only the many pictures of fallen young men from Lviv in churches remind the people of the war in the East. Two million tourists visit Lviv annually; moreover, the city wants to focus on the organization of conferences and congresses in the future and plans to build a new congress center with a capacity of 3,000 people.
Lviv is also an interesting city for international hotel chains, as there are none. Due to the situation in Eastern Ukraine and in Kiev more and more organizers and operators relocate to Lviv for business. Many wealthy Ukrainians fled the disputed eastern region and have moved to Lviv looking for high-quality apartments. Housing is also needed for some 30,000 refugees from the Eastern region. Many companies, especially IT companies, have resettled to Lviv. People in Eastern Ukraine used to be wealthier than in Western Ukraine, the wages were 1.5 times higher than in Lviv. The Donetsk region, which economically was always stronger than Western Ukraine, will now shut down its mines and fill them with water, the steel plants will be scrapped. Therefore, many people aim for Western Ukraine, which has lately experienced a very dynamic development.
Lviv region to strengthen decentralization
In a meeting with the first Deputy Governor of the region (Oblast) Lviv, Rostyslav Zamlynskyy, Franz Schausberger was informed about the aim to strengthen local governments by promoting decentralization. Especially administrative decentralization shall be put forward and bring order to local finances. The region has created 15 municipal associations, which were established by the municipalities voluntarily. The municipalities retain their independence. However, the decentralization process is not finished yet. Schausberger offered the know-how and support of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), which was gratefully accepted. It was agreed to jointly organize seminars and workshops. The cross-border regional cooperation with regions in Poland and other European regions is on the agenda and the region of Lviv is also interested in signing agreements of cooperation with other regions in Germany and Austria.
The Region of Lviv plans to reconstruct a former mining area five kilometers from the Polish border into an industrial park. There are particularly great opportunities in agriculture and in wood processing, where skilled personnel is available.