Foto: Erik Svedahl, Norges ambassadør i Ukraine.

The Norwegian ambassador, Erik Svedahl, told Kyiv Post that Ukraine is not living up to it’s international commitment, but Norway is in it for “the long run.” 

The Norwegians are not happy about the investment climate in Ukraine. That seems to be the premise of a big interview with the ambassador of Norway, Erik Svedahl, in Kyiv Post. Especially in the sector of green energy, Norway has interests, with energy companies as Scatec and NBT making large investments in Ukraine.

Companies like those are often owed millions of dollars by the Ukranian state, who lately cut the rates with the energy companies last summer. International institutions, energy companies and local political groups were not impressed with the price changes that made green energy investment less attractive.

“The price is the issue,” Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said late last spring “We cannot have the most expensive green energy in Europe in a country with such poverty levels. We are all in the same boat. That cannot be true that the country loses, the budget loses, and we pay an increased price for green energy. We do not want to limit investment; we want to understand the value of this energy. This is our responsibility to the country.”

Erik even involved Erna

It is this exact field that Erik Svedahl have been spending a lot of his first year as ambassador to Ukraine.

“I haven’t had a lot of choices other than to focus on renewable energy,” Svedahl said. “The government is paying but it is still behind on the debt from last year and not paying according to the schedule. It has taught me that you need to be very careful and if something sounds too good to be true, maybe it is. I’m talking about feed-in tariffs. You should be able to trust what the government signs off to.”

Even the involvement of Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg did not help. She talked to leaders of Ukraine, but “all to no avail.” A consequence of this, the article says, is that investments from Norway have dried up as “word spread in the country’s newspapers that the Ukrainian government doesn’t honor its commitments to investors.”

Also the Swedes have had their share of problems with the Ukrainian government. On Friday, Ukraine Nu reported that Vindkraft Ukraina, a Swedish green energy investment company, dropped a large plan for a windfarm in Kherson. They cited recent regulations by the government as a reason.

Interview with Erik

About half a year ago, Ukraine Nu also interviewed Erik Svedahl. He was asked “how do you see Ukraine’s economic potential? And how does Norway fit into the economy?,” and answered:

Ukraine has great economic potential with its rich natural resources and a large and well-educated population. Trade with Norway is still limited, but in gradual positive development. Norway exports a lot of fish to Ukraine, while ski and IT services are among the most important Ukrainian exports to Norway,”

“Over 2000 Ukrainian IT specialists work for Norwegian companies. Norwegian business interest in Ukraine is growing, and the Norwegian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (NUCC) in Oslo is doing an admirable job of identifying new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation. Norway is also a significant player in renewable energy in Ukraine. In 2019, Norwegian investment in this sector actually accounted for almost 20 percent of total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ukraine.” 

The full interview can be found here (Written in Danish).