Switzerland’s Foreign Minister, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, attended the 2023 Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) in London from 21-22 June, where he called for a continuation of the reconstruction process for Ukraine based on the Lugano principles agreed at the first URC held in Switzerland in 2022.
Federal Councillor Cassis made it clear that the people of Ukraine can continue to count on Switzerland's support for reconstruction in their country, with Switzerland's priorities in the reconstruction process including support for humanitarian mine clearance operations.
He advocated the international community continuing the political reconstruction process together. The basis for this was established at the first Ukraine Recovery Conference in July 2022, when 59 states and international organizations agreed on the key parameters of the reconstruction process in Lugano and codified them in the Lugano Declaration and Principles.
"The tasks that the Ukrainian people are facing in the reconstruction are immense," said Federal Councilor Cassis in his speech at this year’s URC. "But our commitment and determination to support Ukraine in this is just as great."
In order to provide effective support for reconstruction in Ukraine, Switzerland is concentrating on three key areas: diplomacy, the economy and good governance.
- In the diplomatic field, the focus is on continuing the political reconstruction process and coordinating the measures of all parties involved. Federal Councillor Cassis welcomed the fact that the Council of Europe decided to create a damage register at its summit in May 2023. This is an important first step towards setting up a compensation mechanism for Ukraine, and Switzerland is already supporting the evaluation of damage caused by the war against Ukraine in order to be able to better co-ordinate repair work.
- In the economic area, the focus is on the development of measures which the private sector can be involved in to support reconstruction efforts in Ukraine and private sector involvement was a key theme of this year’s conference. Switzerland signed a declaration of intent at the URC with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the EU Commission and several states to set up a mechanism that will protect investments by private companies in Ukraine against war risks.
- Good governance: To ensure that the reconstruction process is transparent and clear for the people of Ukraine, Switzerland is supporting the Ukrainian population in the field of digital technologies. The EGAP project (E-Governance forAccountability and Participation), which is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), facilitates online access to public services and around 18.5 million people - half of Ukraine's population – are using the platform. EGAP also develops digital tools for local administrations and schools, with a third of local councils in Ukraine using these online services.
Switzerland is already supporting reconstruction projects in Ukraine. The focus is on repairing damaged civilian infrastructure, emergency road and hospital repairs and electrical, sanitary and heating repairs in damaged houses.
Ever since the start of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, Switzerland has initiated a number of measures to help the people affected by the war both in and outside Ukraine and at this year’s URC, Federal Councillor Cassis made clear that Switzerland remains committed to supporting the people of Ukraine.