Monday, 24 October 2022- The reconstruction of Ukraine was discussed at an international expert conference in Berlin hosted by the German G7 Presidency and the EU Commission. “Ukraine cannot manage it alone. The European Union cannot manage it alone either. It can only be achieved by the entire global community, which is now lending its support to Ukraine,” stressed Federal Chancellor Scholz.
At the international expert conference on reconstruction, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen assured Ukraine of long-term assistance: “One should be careful about making historical comparisons, but this amounts to no less than the creation of a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century. It is a task that will take generations and must begin now.”
Russia’s war against Ukraine, which was in violation of international law, had already caused many hundreds of billions of euros worth of damage, and the destruction was immeasurable, said Scholz, adding that reconstruction would take decades. As the Federal Chancellor stressed: “Ukraine is not alone in this war, however. It can rely on the support of the international community.”
EU Commission President von der Leyen described the reconstruction as a “colossal undertaking”. “We see President Putin targeting civilian infrastructure to paralyse Ukraine and terrorise its people,” she said. It was not possible to wait until the end of this horrific war before starting reconstruction, she said, it was important to look at what could be repaired right away, such as schools. In addition, she noted, Ukraine needed regular financial support to be able to pay teachers, doctors and pensions.
Planning reconstruction now
The global community has been providing support for Ukraine for several months. The G7 states, the European Union and its members have raised over 35 billion euros in emergency aid alone to date. The international community has imposed tough sanctions on Russia, supplied weapons to Ukraine and provided support for Ukraine’s economy, while millions of refugees have been taken in by several countries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a keynote speech at the reconstruction conference. “Ukraine and the EU are united and this will not change,” he stressed. Ukraine was defending its sovereignty and freedom, he said, and in doing so it was also standing up for European security.
In a speech broadcast live by video, Zelensky pointed out that Russian missile attacks had destroyed much infrastructure in Ukraine – including railway stations, schools, hospitals, power plants and more than a third of the energy infrastructure. Nonetheless, he said, with the help of Ukraine the EU would be able to find a substitute for Russian energy sources. And Ukraine would continue to contribute to food security in Europe and the world in future, he promised – even more so when safe operations were possible again.
Reconstruction in the interests of Europe
“Reconstruction will be an enormous task. We will have to invest a lot to make it work. Ukraine cannot manage it alone. The European Union cannot manage it alone either. It can only be achieved by the entire global community, which is now lending its support to Ukraine,” the Federal Chancellor said. Germany would continue to provide support for Ukraine in close coordination with its partners, he added – during the period of the G7 Presidency and beyond.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed: “Providing support for Ukraine is not just the right thing to do, it’s very much in our own interests, too.” Ukraine was not only fighting for its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, they said, the country was also defending the international rules-based order – in other words the basis for peaceful coexistence throughout the world.
Ukraine has been an EU accession candidate since this summer. Reconstruction will prepare the country for membership of the European Union. This means that support for Ukraine will not only determine what sort of country it will be in the future. It is also key to the future of a common Europe.
At the conference, Scholz once again addressed clear words to Russian President Vladimir Putin, too: “Stop this war! Stop this senseless killing! Withdraw your troops completely from Ukraine!”
The guests received in Berlin by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen include Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine.
Photo: Federal Government/Hartmann