26 November 2006

British Association for Central and Eastern Europe

The British Association for Central and Eastern Europe (BACEE) works to promote a closer understanding between the British people and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and to support the institutions of a civil society that are a fundamental requirement if the ambition of EU membership of many of those states is to be fulfilled.

It does this by means of seminars, study visits, conferences and round tables designed to share the British experience of democratic systems and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and experience across the borders of countries within the region.

My interest in Central and Eastern Europe has grown out of my original interest in Czechoslovakia from the time when I lived and worked there. I joined BACEE a couple of years ago because they run a series of interesting talks at the offices off Victoria.

The most recent talk was, 'The City and Central Europe' by Sir Gavyn Arthur. Sir Gavyn was Lord Mayor of London in 2002-03. He was called to the Bar, Middle Temple in 1975, practiced as a barrister from 1977 and has been a Recorder since 2002. Among his many interests he is a member of the Anglo-Austrian Society, the British Ukrainian Law Society and the Three Faiths Forum.

The main points that I took from the talk were that the city has circa 4 trillion dollars to invest a year but the demand for investment far outstrips supply so investors have plenty of choice on where to place their money. A key factor in their choice is the commercial standing of the country (degree of corruption and bureaucracy etc.) and the judiciary plays a key role in ensuring that commercial operations function fairly.

A convincing argument well put by Sir Gavyn who also illustrated his talk with many anecdotes from his work in Central and Eastern Europe. An entertaining and an instructive talk; who could ask for more?

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