Ukraine, allies adopt principles for reconstruction
The declaration was "definitely the start of our long distance" process: Ukrainian PM
LUGANO (AFP) - Dozens of countries committed Tuesday to support Ukraine through what is expected to be a long and expensive recovery, and agreed on the need for broad reforms to boost transparency and battle corruption.
Wrapping up a two-day conference in the southern Swiss city of Lugano, leaders from some 40 countries signed on to the Lugano Declaration laying out a set of principles for rebuilding Ukraine.
Swiss President Iganzio Cassis, who co-hosted the conference with Ukraine, hailed the declaration as a "key first step on the long road of Ukraine’s recovery".
"Our work prepares for the time after the war even as the war is still raging," he told the closing ceremony.
"This should give the people in Ukraine hope and the certainty that they are not alone."
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Monday told the conference the recovery following Russia’s February 24 invasion was expected to cost at least $750 billion.
He said Tuesday the declaration was "definitely the start of our long distance" process.
"We have to make everything that was destroyed better than it was," he said.
- Fight corruption -
The declaration said the countries, in addition to Ukraine and the European Union, "fully commit to supporting Ukraine throughout its path from early to long-term recovery".
It added that it supported "Ukraine’s European perspective and EU candidate country status".
Among the principles, the countries agreed Ukraine itself must be in the driving seat on how to rebuild.
As billions of dollars in aid flow into Ukraine, lingering concerns about widespread corruption in the country has meant there has been much focus on the necessity of reforms.
The Lugano principles stressed "the recovery process has to contribute to accelerating, deepening, broadening and achieving Ukraine’s reform efforts and resilience in line with Ukraine’s European path".
"The recovery process has to be transparent and accountable to the people of Ukraine," the document said.
It also called for the recovery process to be "inclusive and ensure gender equality, and it called for Ukraine to be rebuilt in a "sustainable manner".
Shmyhal on Monday laid out the government’s phased reconstruction plan, focused on the immediate needs of those affected by the war, followed by the financing of longer-term reconstruction projects aimed at making Ukraine European, green and digital.
On Tuesday, he stressed his country was eager to move swiftly to put in place the framework to ensure rapid change.
"When we say we are ready to move fast, we really mean fast," he said, pointing out a meeting was planned to start implementation later Tuesday.
He also noted that two follow-up conferences have already been planned, with one led by the EU in a few months time, and London agreeing to host a Ukraine Recovery Conference next year.