From the Editors

An attack on all of emerging Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an attack on democracy and the rule of law. Ukrainians deserve our support, our solidarity, and must not be left isolated.

In a different world the Emerging Europe team would have on Monday, February 28, been flying into the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the launch of Tech Emerging Europe Advocates Ukraine, an initiative designed to promote and showcase the country’s amazing tech sector and its abundance of innovative start-ups.

Following Russia’s invasion of the country early on the morning of February 24 however, that is no longer possible. Ukraine has been forced to close its airspace to commercial traffic, grounding flights.

We still hope to launch Tech Emerging Europe Advocates Ukraine next week, in a hybrid format in collaboration with our local partners, to demonstrate that the country remains open for business and that this brutal, unprovoked act of sheer aggression will not succeed in isolating the country.

Earlier this month, Ukraine showed that its ambitions for the tech sector were bolder than ever.

“Don’t be afraid to dream,” the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky told the 2022 Diia Summit in Kyiv, a showcase for Ukraine’s digital transformation.

“We want to transform Ukraine into a country of start-ups,” he said. “We expect the technology share of GDP to grow from four to 10 per cent by 2025, up to 16.5 billion US dollars, making us the largest tech hub in Europe.”

Solidarity, not isolation

We want to show that Ukraine’s ambitions to become Europe’s largest tech hub remain a possibility. We remain committed to our mission of championing Central and Eastern Europe’s social, democratic, and economic development, and call on the global tech community to join us and continue working with their Ukrainian partners: now is the time to show solidarity with Ukraine, not to leave it isolated.

Call your Ukrainian partners, speak to them, find out what you can do for them, pay them any outstanding invoices. Ukraine’s businesses need to know that they will be able to meet the payroll this month, that customers will not desert them. Offer reassurance, offer any support you can provide. We all have a part to play.

The next few days will be crucial not just for Ukraine but also for the future of an entire region, the region that we call emerging Europe.

More than three decades of often painful progress risk being undone by a dictator, Vladimir Putin, who simply cannot stomach the prospect of a free, prosperous, democratic, and innovative country blossoming on his doorstep.

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