Mass rallies in Ukraine (so-called Euromaidan) have contributed to the rising popularity of Ukraine and attention from abroad. However, the focus, often unjustified, in the international media on violence during protests has significantly worsened the overall reputation of the state, making it in the eyes of international investors and tourists a problematic country. At the same time, the current surge in popularity of Ukraine should be used to ensure that the country is mentioned in the world media positively.
This opinion has been expressed by a number of domestic and foreign experts during an international roundtable, entitled “The Influence of Euromaidan on the reputation of Ukraine” on Tuesday in Kyiv.
“That popularity, which Ukraine has acquired worldwide thanks to Euromaidan, under other circumstances, would have cost our state tens of millions of dollars,” said Denys Bohush, one of the organizers of the event, head of the Bohush Communications PR agency.
At the same time, the expert says, the main message in world’s media reports about Ukraine is that Ukraine has become a problem, “crisis” country, and the reputation of its leadership deteriorated significantly. “Now there is no world media that would not discuss Ukraine. But now it is present in a negative light as a problem country,” he said. As a result, increases in investment and tourist flows in Ukraine, according to Bohush, have become questionable.
The PR agency chief says after the successful EURO 2012 in 2012 Ukraine’s main “business card” has now become an image of the fires on the barricades in the Ukrainian capital. “Nobody abroad cares that 100 meters from that site people live a quiet life and do not know or do not want to know what is happening on the Maidan. But this is what is shown in the media, and it is being heated up more and more,” Bohush noted. In his opinion, improving the overall international reputation of the country is a matter “of many years”.
Thomas Achelis, Director of the International Institute for Quality in Public Relations, opined that Ukraine’s reputation in Europe, especially in Germany, is “very negative”. Although, according to the expert, who has worked for a long time in Ukraine, this bad reputation does not correspond to the present state of affairs. He said a significant “contribution” to that has been made by journalists themselves acting in a manner “bad news – good news.” “Many years are needed to improve the reputation, for people will remember the images from Maidan,” he said.
“Now, even those who have never heard about Ukraine are sitting and “googling” it, Euromaidan. Therefore, it can be used, and any crisis is an opportunity,” advised Karmo Tuur, director of the Academic Center of Baltic-Russian Studies from Estonia. The expert believes one cannot judge on the events in Ukraine “based on newspaper titles and images on the Internet”, for the country is a “multi-layered and multi-faceted.” Also, says Tuur, the events in Ukraine have shown that this state is not just a “pawn” in a big geopolitical game of the West and the East (Russia), but the internal factor is still decisive.
In turn, Jaroslav Pesek, head of the Association of Czech-Ukrainian Partnership (Czech Republic) also noted that to improve its reputation Ukraine should take advantage of the fact that the European Union is very interested in the events in the country. “It is necessary to use the best information about the history, culture, traditions and other things related to the Ukrainian people,” he said.