Anders Östlund: “It is in your own interest”

xQhcPF3O Interview by Johannes Colpa

Link to the page in dutch.

Anders Ostlund is a Swedish entrepreneur who lives in Ukraine for many years , he has a good idea of what’s going on in the Ukrainian business community, but he is at the same also a person with a great social consciousness, from the very beginning he has been active in the Maidan movement,Our reporter Johannes Colpa got to know him as a sober but also passionate man someone who does not mince words.

Intro question. When did you first visit Ukraine and why did you decide to stay ands tart a business there?

Thanks to Putin. A friend and me wanted to visit Georgia in 2008 but Russia invaded – as they do – so we decided on Ukraine instead and spent two weeks in Kyiv and Crimea. I loved it and when the financial crisis hit later that year I had to save my company in Stockholm as it was going down fast. After that hard work I wanted something new in life and decided to leave Sweden and try Ukraine. I had one contact in Ukraine and we had an idea to start an employer branding company together. That project failed after a few years but in the meantime I had started Fryday and that project is still going well.

I have noticed your name almost from the very start of the revolution, and I read comment of you (in Kyiv Post febr 2014) that getting involved was a; was an “intense but short moral debate, but if I may ask you how did you get involved?

Since coming to Ukraine I had noticed the rampant corruption and many times I mentioned this to Ukrainian friends and asked them why they didn’t do anything about it. Once Ukrainians started acting against corruption in 2013 I saw no reason not to support EuroMaidan from the very beginning. I never had any reason to regret that decision and the things I experienced on Maidan will be with me forever. Great place with a great atmosphere apart from a few days of horror and grief. My part in Maidan was very small and I am enormously impressed with the courage and self-sacrifice showed by so many Ukrainians there.

I noticed you have several years of experience running a business in Ukraine can you see positive changes in your trade now, as compared to the time before the revolution under the old regime?

Sadly the first thing that comes to mind is the lower costs. Less fear of authorities too and a feeling of freedom. Lots of work to be done on the institutional side though. I also hope foreign companies will understand the great investment opportunity that Ukraine represents.

I am sure you are well aware about the current referendum in the Netherlands; What do you think about it ?

It is bullshit. Probably instigated by the FSB. There is no reason whatsoever for the Netherlands to oppose Ukraine’s closer affiliation with the EU in my opinion.

When I read material from the people who are against the association throaty against the EU I often here these augments below; a) that it is a first step to EU membership b) that Ukraine will cost us billions in aid c) that it would bring Ukrainian corruption to the Netherlands (often to justify such claims they say that Ukraine is an corrupt oligarchy backed by extreem right nationalist) d) the other claim I often here is that it would anger Russia and could bring the EU in armed conflict with Russia and that Ukraine is in a state of civil war and that this war has to be resolved in negotiations with Ukraine and Russia

Yes it is. I hope Ukraine will be an EU member but it will take some years to even get started. B: Most likely the EU will have to spend billions on Ukraine but it is in the EU’s interest as Ukraine is protecting Europe from Russia, spilling its sons, fathers and brothers blood on the battlefield for our safety. Not supporting Ukraine would be much more costly for the EU. C: Pure nonsense. The oligarchs in Ukraine are much weaker now than ever before and with support and affiliation with the EU these oligarchs will be defeated, so will corruption in Ukraine. Not supporting Ukraine is a better way to bring corruption to the Netherlands. In any case corruption from Russia is a bigger threat – the referendum itself is probably a result of Russian corrupt influence. The far right in Ukraine is weaker than in almost all EU countries. Almost no representation in parliament for example. D: Russia’s anger is based on its own phantasies and not related to any real threats. “Not angering Russia” is the same as appeasing Russia and giving Russia the right to invade and terrorise other countries and peoples. That is not the way to proceed for a safer Europe. Ukraine is not in a civil war, Russia invaded Ukraine and any settlement for peace have to include an unconditional demand of Russia withdrawing its troops and support of terrorists in Ukraine.

If the treaty will remain in place what kind of advantages would you see for the EU and Ukraine , and do you think it will also benefit the local human rights situation ?

The treaty have many great advantages. More trade is probably the biggest gain. The Netherlands is a huge investor in Ukraine so Dutch businesses will benefit a lot from the treaty. With an increasing welfare the human rights situation benefits everywhere. Besides, the human rights situation is not that bad in Ukraine apart from in the Russian-occupied territories

As a person from West Europe who lived for many years in Ukraine and has years of local business experience and as a human being; what would you like to say to our voters in the Netherlands ?

Support Ukraine and Ukraine’s movement towards the West. It is in your best interest as it: Will improve your economy, security, the welfare if Europe, increase freedom in Ukraine and Eastern Europe as a whole and it will also show that aggression from Russia is not approved.

Dutch referendum No-side is far right and far left.



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