Discours - URC2022: On the road to Lugano

Kiev, 29.10.2021 - Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, Vice President of the Federal Council and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, delivered on the occasion of the launch of the process for the Ukraine Reform Conference 2022 - Check against delivery

Honourable Prime Minister Shmyhal
Friends of reforms in Ukraine
Ladies and gentlemen

It is a great honour for me to be here today with you and officially launch the preparatory process for the next Ukraine Reform Conference – the URC2022. I am both thrilled and humbled.

• Thrilled, because I cannot wait to start the journey 'On the road to Lugano' with you.
• Humbled, because taking on the task of hosting such a conference means following in the footsteps of cities like London, Copenhagen, Toronto and Vilnius. Together, we side with Ukraine in its efforts to implement major political, economic and social reforms.

It is in the nature of things that reforms are not all fun and games. Reforms are hard work. However, while reforms are not easy, they are still necessary. Necessary to tackle the often changing challenges of today's world, and necessary for the well-being of our citizens. And that is precisely what our main goal here should be: to foster conditions in which citizens can live in peace and work for a prosperous future for themselves and their families.

Switzerland has supported Ukraine's ambitious reform agenda for over 25 years and will remain a reliable and long-standing partner. Switzerland is a top 5 bilateral investor and has a proven track record as a development partner in the country. We are happy to share our experience and expertise and work with you all at this 5th edition of the URC.

Based on past Conferences and in light of the current challenges of the reform process, the Swiss approach for the URC2022 focuses on the following elements:

• A focus on impact: The URC2022 is meant to be a positive process. We focus on implementing the conference outcomes in a constructive way.
• A strong will to reform: The URC2022 is a process for reforms in Ukraine. We are working with broad consent and the wide-ranging support of national and international stakeholders.
• A shared understanding: The URC2022 is a tangible process that promotes the legitimacy of decisions, strengthens ownership and increases the effectiveness of reforms.
• An inclusive transformation: With the motto 'Reforms for All, All for Reforms!', the URC2022 favours an inclusive approach enveloping business, academia, civil society, and local and national government. Broad participation and consultations are welcomed. Your presence today proves that we are walking the talk.
• A look back with foresight: The URC2022 aims to strike the right balance between examining the current situation and looking to the future.
• A focused approach: President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Shmyhal and I have agreed to focus the attention of the URC2022 on two thematic pillars: stability and prosperity.

The first pillar – stability – will regroup reform streams such as fighting corruption, strengthen local structures, and promote reforms for reintegration.
The second pillar – prosperity – includes economic reforms. Economic development and stability are of great importance, especially when it comes to post-COVID-19 recovery. Encouraging privatisation and corporate governance, thinking green and investing in human capital will further advance an inclusive development, allowing everyone in the country to reap the social and economic benefits.

The banking and financial sector is also an important area of reform – an area in which Switzerland has many years of experience and a 'certain expertise to furnish', as we all know [funny/joke]. A treasure trove of experience that we are glad to share with our Ukrainian friends.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, we are taking on a great deal here. And as I said, successful reforms are not child's play. They are hard work. But despite the challenges in planning, adopting and implementing reforms, I am convinced that there are certain factors that positively support such processes.

• My experience shows that top-down reforms often fail because they are disconnected from the people. Again, inclusiveness is key!
• The quality of reforms and how they are accepted depend on consultations with all stakeholders. This process is not very spectacular. And it takes time. But in the end it is worthwhile, because it is more effective and sustainable.
• It is up to the authorities and the Ukrainian society with all its elements to work hand in hand for the reforms. It is indeed a shared responsibility to achieve shared prosperity!

Development partners in general and Switzerland in particular will continue to support Ukrainian efforts to meet these ambitious goals. It's time we stop waiting for others to solve our problems and instead start asking ourselves what can I do to support the reforms. It's time to embark on the journey. See you on the road to Lugano!

Thank you for your attention. I am already looking forward to welcoming you to my home town of Lugano on 4 July 2022 for the fifth edition of the Ukraine Reform Conference.

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