Ukraine Fondly Recalls Thatcher’s Visit

KIEV, Ukraine -- Margaret Thatcher visited Kiev in 1990 when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union.

Margaret Thatcher

Many experts and politicians in Eastern Europe, believe it was not just a simple state trip but the start of a wave that culminated in Ukraine’s transition from socialism to a market economy.

Euronews asked Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of an independent Ukraine, why he did not implement economic policies based on Thatcher’s experiences.

“It was not possible to take radical steps quickly and to change that system. The mindset of people had to be changed. We had to prepare civil servants who didn’t understand what a market economy is,” said Kravchuk.

“As a president I didn’t have a full understanding of what a market economy was about. So we had to learn the process first and then take radical steps,” he added. 

Despite the slow pace of economic reforms, some major privatisations did take place when Kravchuk was president.

Most eastern European observers believe Thatcher opened up a Pandora’s Box in the region when she famously declared that Mikhail Gorbachev was a man she could do business with.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara believes her importance cannot be underestimated:

“Her personal contribution to the new composition of a new Europe is a great one. That’s the reason why we are in great sympathy with this great person.”

Not everyone agrees that Thatcher’s contribution was beneficial but few in Ukraine want to return to the days of the past.

Source: euronews