Turkish investors return to Ukraine
Muhammed Kafadar - ISTANBUL
The umbrella organization of Turkish businesspeople in Ukraine has reopened its branches in the capital Kiev and the eastern city of Lviv, its chairperson has told daily Hürriyet.
“The war has been prolonged, but there’s also an economic front. You cannot feed the entire population with humanitarian aid,” said Burak Pehlivan, the head of the Turkish Ukrainian Businessmen Association (TUİD).
“Ukraine needs 12,000 tons of aid, which is equivalent to 600 trucks of goods. However, only 150 trucks can get through the customs nowadays,” he added.
Pehlivan has recently returned to Kiev, where he had to leave on the first day of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
The Ukrainian government has launched a program to revive economic activity and help companies move their operations to safe cities, according to his remarks.
The program includes prospective post-war plans to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
As part of these efforts, most of the businesses in Lviv, which is about 70 kilometers east of the Polish border, have resumed operations recently, said Pehlivan.
“In Kiev, less than half of them have reopened. Curfew starts at 10 p.m. This is a big city, it takes time for people to go home. That’s why businesses close at around 6 p.m. The scene in the capital city resembles the first days of the pandemic.”
The investments of Turkish businesspeople were estimated at $4.5 billion prior to the war. The number of people employed by Turkish companies has dropped by half to 15,000 since then.
Overall, a third of all companies in the country halted operations in March. “That rate is 17 percent now,” said the TUİD chair.
Around 10 percent of the facilities of the Turkish companies are located in the territories invaded by Russian troops. Some Turkish firms have reported damage to their depots and goods during Russian attacks.
Ukraine is a major exporter of sunflower seed oil, wheat and corn, Pehlivan noted, stressing that Ukrainian firms’ access to Black Sea ports is crucial for global food supply security.
He added that the number of flights to Poland should be increased. “Poland is like a gateway for Ukraine to the world,” he said.