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World Bank Managing Director Visits Ukraine

April 22, 2008

Kyiv, April 22, 2008. – World Bank Managing Director Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala today completed her first official visit to Ukraine.  The main objective was to observe the achievements of recent years and discuss ways in which the World Bank can contribute most effectively to Ukraine’s sustainable development, including how best to manage negative consequences of the recent global economic slowdown..

“In my first visit to Ukraine,” said Okonjo-Iweala, “I am very pleased to observe first-hand the impressive progress that the country has made over the last few years. The World Bank Group is ready to continue to help Ukraine to meet its ambitious economic and social objectives.”

During her stay in Kyiv, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met the President Victor Yushchenko. She delivered a message from Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank on the role of Ukraine as a major grain producer in helping to alleviate the global food crises. Victor Yushchenko and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also discussed future of the programs within the World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for Ukraine for 2008-2011.Okonjo-Iweala also met with Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and members of the Government. She congratulated the Prime Minister on the Government prudent fiscal management and urged its continuation.

She exchanged views with the authorities on the main challenges facing Ukraine.  She congratulated Ukraine on its imminent accession to the WTO, which she saw as an important step towards Ukraine’s greater integration in the global economy and with the European Union.  She noted that the recent stresses emerging in the global economy threaten to reverse the gains made in many countries in recent years, including Ukraine.  In this context, she underscored the importance of political leaders working together to find consensus on matters of key economic significance, the need to ensure vulnerable communities are protected, and the importance of deepening and accelerating the reforms needed to provide sustained growth that can benefit all Ukrainians.

Okonjo-Iweala confirmed the Bank’s willingness to increase its support to Ukraine through lending and advisory work in line with the recently endorsed Country Partnership Strategy for 2008-2011.

Okonjo-Iweala also visited the City of Lviv where she opened the new World Bank Center for Innovative Knowledge with the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv.  The Center brings the World Bank and its publications and databases closer to citizens of Ukraine – to students and people of all ages looking for global knowledge on social and economic development.  This is the fourth such Center for Innovative Knowledge opened in Ukraine – three centers are already functioning in Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv.

During the opening ceremony, Okonjo-Iweala emphasized that “The World Bank is very proud to team up with the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv in providing users in Lviv and in Western Ukraine with free access to a wealth of information on global economic development as well as on the World Bank's activities.”

Additionally, Okonjo-Iweala met with students and professors of the Ivan Franko National University and delivered a lecture on how the World Bank plans to help the countries in which it works respond to the new global economic challenges, such as rising food and energy process, and uncertainty in financial markets. She polled the views of the student body on how corruption impedes progress in Ukraine and committed the World Bank to support efforts by the authorities to address it.

Okonjo-Iweala’s visit is seen by the World Bank as an important step in enhancing and further extending the cooperative relationship between Ukraine and the World Bank.