International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine in Berlin (eng)
Berlin, 25.10.2022 - Allocution du président de la Confédération Suisse et chef du Département fédéral des affaires étrangères DFAE, Ignazio Cassis - seul le texte prononcé fait foi
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to be with you here in Berlin, in a safe and warm place.
I would first like to thank the G7 Presidency and the European Commission for organising this conference.
Many thanks also to you personally, Commission President von der Leyen, for your commitment, which has not diminished since Lugano, and to you, Chancellor Scholz, for your commitment to the Ukraine recovery process and for the warm welcome.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I was in Kyiv last week where I met with many very brave people. We all owe them our deepest respect. For months they have been working day and night to defend themselves against Russia’s aggression and to regain the territorial integrity of their country.
I’m speaking of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, of Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal - whom I greet warmly today – their teams, local authorities, civil society representatives and all Ukrainians whose lives are getting tougher by the day.
I was extremely impressed and moved by the resolve and strength of the people, despite the man-made humanitarian disaster that is unfolding here in Europe before our very eyes… in the 21st century, and with winter fast approaching.
During my visit to Kyiv last week, three things struck me:
First of all, hope!
Beyond the urgent need for humanitarian assistance to get through the winter, the Ukrainian people also need medium- and long-term perspectives.
Even if we are unfortunately unable to predict when the war will end, it would be unforgivable not to move forward resolutely with the political process of reconstruction. The people of Ukraine, just like the many refugees from Ukraine, deserve a perspective that offers hope.
Secondly, clarity! My discussions in Ukraine showed that many aspects of the recovery process still need to be clarified:
• What form will international coordination take?
• What governance structure will drive the process?
• What funding sources are available and which financial mechanisms do we have at hand?
... to mention just a few.
Many of these pending issues require quick, precise and firm answers if our ambition is to put in place an unprecedented international reconstruction programme, a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine.
The European Union is of course well placed to play a prominent role in view of Ukraine’s aspirations to join. But all parties are called upon to join forces for an effective recovery process.
Perhaps the European Political Community, which met for the first time in Prague on 6 October, can also play a supportive role.
I met with Moldova's President, Maia Sandu, last Friday and assured her of our support in organising an event that could very well be dedicated to exploring this issue.
But of course, I am also thinking of extra-European states and multilateral organisations.
Trust is a central element of the process. Trust between Ukraine and its international partners, but also trust between Ukrainian citizens and their authorities.
In the summer, Ukraine and Switzerland brought together all actors for an initial gathering in Lugano. This was the first step towards a structured recovery process.
The cornerstones of this political process were set out in the ‘Lugano Declaration’.
The seven ‘Lugano Principles’, which you can see (on the screen) behind me, are intended to assist and guide our efforts.
As a doctor, I believe that actions need to be evidence based. It is crucial that the process of reconstruction be based on a structured approach inspired by the lessons of the past and backed up by solid data.
In view of the country’s size and precisely because the needs are so immense, setting the right priorities is key.
So beyond the urgent and indispensable need for humanitarian assistance, –there needs to be a proper needs assessment. As stated in the Lugano declaration, Ukraine and its people have the lead.
This requires a domestic clarification of the roles and responsibilities of state bodies, such as parliament, regional and local authorities, and Ukraine’s vibrant civil society.
Last Thursday in Kyiv I was able to meet a group of motivated and skilled young people. They represented different organisations, including this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Center for Civil Liberties. I was impressed by how committed they are to their country and how eagerly they want to participate in the government's reconstruction efforts.
Setting in motion an inclusive domestic process is a huge challenge that requires trust.
The same trust that the international community needs in order to participate in financing the process.
We must be effective and efficient - out of a sense of duty to the people of Ukraine, but also to be accountable to our own citizens who make these funds available, directly or indirectly, through international institutions. We must not fail!
Various actors, such as the World Bank and the OECD - represented here by Secretary General Cormann – have produced excellent analyses and reports. Today's expert conference is another important step. It allows us to share the knowledge gained and to deepen it.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Switzerland remains a dependable partner. We are focusing our efforts on those areas where our added value is the biggest and where our expertise is most useful. As a neutral country, we do not supply weapons.
But our legal obligations in respect of neutrality do not in any way imply indifference to the blatant violation of international law and to those values we defend, such as freedom and the right of the people to live under a peaceful and just international order.
My country stands firmly on the side of international law and recognises the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Ukraine.
I expect today's conference to make a concrete contribution to defining a successful reconstruction process. For this, we need to draw on solid evidence and lessons from the past.
I am confident that today’s discussions will be fruitful, let’s get to work!
Switzerland has rolled up its sleeves and is firmly on board. You can count on us!
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