Swiss conference sets principles for Ukraine reconstruction

The two-day conference in the Swiss city of Lugano presented a declaration for the democratic reconstruction of war-torn Ukraine. © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

An international conference to support Ukraine, hosted by Switzerland, has agreed to a series of principles to oversee the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

This content was published on July 5, 2022 - 16:07

Representatives from over 40 countries and international organisations like the European Investment Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) signed up to the Lugano Declaration at the two-day meeting in southern Switzerland that ended on Tuesday.

In the final declarationExternal link, the participants set out seven criteria, including the fight against corruption, and a commitment to democratic values, transparent government and ensuring fundamental rights.

The meetingExternal link was hosted in the Swiss city of Lugano by Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and included attendees such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the conference online. 

“It is the beginning of long process,” said Cassis in his closing speech.

The Swiss minister said the Lugano Declaration lays out the groundwork that will not only launch the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country but also give people in Ukraine hope and the certainty that they are not alone.

He added that the process begins immediately but that it will take time and patience and all sides must find a common language.

Better than before

Shmyhal agreed that to rebuild Ukraine it will be necessary to make it a better place than before and to act immediately.

“When we say are ready to go fast, we mean it,” he said in his speech.

Shmyhal thanked states and organisations for their pledges of assistance. He also welcomed announcements by Britain and Germany to organise future Ukraine reconstruction conferences over the next two years.

“I’m convinced that we will no longer talk about planned projects in a year but about results and successful projects,” he declared.

Ukraine’s government estimates it will cost $750 billion (CHF720 billion) to rebuild infrastructure that has been damaged or destroyed since Russia’s invasion at the end of February.

Shmyhal said Ukraine was pushing for international rules that would allow it to use up to $500 billion of confiscated Russian assets for reconstruction activities in Ukraine.

“Russia and other potential aggressors must know that they have to pay for their unprovoked and unjustified attacks,” he said.

Financial pledges

Several countries and companies have made financial pledges for Ukraine. Switzerland said it would double its aidExternal link to Ukraine to CHF100 million by the end of 2023. The United States has also announced that it will make available $6.2 billion over the next few months.

On the sidelines of the conference, Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga signed an agreement with Ukraine on the implementation of the Paris climate treatyExternal link.

Over the past 15 years, Ukraine has been a key country for Swiss development aidExternal link; Switzerland has been the country’s fifth biggest donor.

On Monday, representatives from the Swiss, Ukrainian and European parliamentsExternal link also discussed legislative priorities for the reconstruction process.

The July 4-5 Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano was in the calendar before Russia launched a full-scale assault against Ukraine on February 24. It was part of a series of international conferences held across multiple countries since 2014 to support the Ukrainian government’s efforts at reform and democratisation.

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