recap-of-president-zelenskyys-new-normality-wef-speech-from-january-2020

RECAP of President Zelenskyy’s ‘New Normality’ WEF Speech from January, 2020


Editor’s note: Zelenskyy’s quotes are from his original speech in Ukranian translated into English. Some of his quotes have been condensed and edited for smoothness.

Since February 24, 2022, the day that marks the Russian invasion of Ukraine, questions have swirled as to what exactly is going on with the nascent, hot conflict. A speech and Q&A Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Davos gathering in January of 2020 provides some clarity. Thanks, in part, to Zelenskyy’s touting of the Ukraine as a “unicorn” worth large-scale investments from “powerful” foreign investors; especially those in the European Union.

WEF head Klaus Schwab kicks off Zelenskyy’s speech (in the video above) by noting that the former TV star and comedian won the presidential election with a “staggering” majority of 73%. Schwab notes Ukraine’s ability to “reform from within,” particularly in regards to it being a “dynamic market economy, free of corruption,” before finally teeing up Zelenskyy to talk about the future of his country.

“Ukraine should become an investment mecca of Eastern and Central Europe,” Zelenskyy says in his speech (above). “The main driver for economic development is an opportunity to get…profits and we want a few countries who are now allowed to make such…high profit[s] on investment capital,” Zelenskyy added in his approximately ten-minute-long speech.

“Today we are underinvested and we are underloved.”

Zelenskyy highlights the fact the world is facing a “new normality” (said in English). More specifically, he says that:

“What is the biggest threat to cohesive and sustainable world today. [It’s] a security issue, for an individual as well as for many countries and all nations; the present-day world is changing with reactive speed, which transferred us into a new epoch, the epoch of “new normality.” What yesterday seemed fantastic, today has become a reality. But unfortunately, not everything is positive by far in this epoch. Trade wars, redistribution, division of territories, the hike of military budgets, separatist movements, cancellation by countries of previous international treaties, this is also, unfortunately, a new normality. And this undermines the credibility and trust of mankind, and makes you think are we not going to the abyss? … With the forthcoming generation suffering from climate [change], permanent conflicts, poverty, the restricted access to food will upbraid and rebuke every world leader; that they had the chance to agree, but they have never made use of the chance…routine shocks have become habitual for mankind.”

For foreign investors with more than $100 million to pump into the country, Zelenskyy says his government offers an “Investment Nanny”:

“[For investors] it will be the state that will defend you. It will be the manager, nanny, speaking five languages and available 24/7 with you; any question, any problem, you will be in direct touch with the manager, and there will be no problem whatsoever. Secondly, for all investors who are ready to join the large-scale privatization, I haven’t mentioned yet, we are preparing large-scale privatization at the beginning of Spring, for today, it will be 500 enterprises ready…to be privatized. Please come for the first two years, all investors who will participate in privatization…we will ensure…tax holidays, you will not pay the corporate income tax for five years.”

After Zelenskyy’s speech, Schwab sits down with him for a Q&A. Beginning their chat by noting that the “substantial reforms” Zelenskyy has implemented have taken a lot of “courage.”

“[The] EU actually has committed to support…an enduring prosperous democratic future. What can the EU do? …You are such a European country. So how do you see your future [with] the EU?” Schwab asks the Ukranian President.

“First, we see our future in the European Union; what does the European Union have to do for Ukraine, just to take Ukraine on board into the European Union is complicated, but it seems to me to take easy decisions. We sign the association agreement with the European Union and we are on course to the European Union…but we have come to understand that not only should Ukraine want to be in the European Union and many EU members support us and see…our future next to them in the European Union as an equitable partner…. This is a philosophical question, this is not about when we will be in the European Union, but what status Ukraine will be granted in the European Union; what will be the attitude be toward our country?

Schwab references Zelenskyy’s “new normality”—specifically referring to it as a “new normal”— before ultimately concluding the speech and Q&A by saying “We hope to hear from you a success story and certainly we will support you in all your reform efforts and we wish you all the best for the democratic and I would say very fast development of [Ukraine’s] potential, which you really have with your human resources, but also with your central…as you mentioned, with your location, as a key country in Central and Eastern Europe.”

On February 27, 2022, the WEF put out a statement saying, in part, that:

“The essence of our organization is its belief in respect, dialogue, and collaborative and cooperative efforts.

“We therefore deeply condemn the aggression by Russia against Ukraine, the attacks and atrocities.

“Our full solidarity is with Ukraine’s people and all those who are suffering innocently from this totally unacceptable war.”

Feature image: World Economic Forum

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