The first Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) in Lugano in July 2022 has become the driving force behind a broad-based understanding on the political reconstruction process in Ukraine. Chaired by Mr Cassis and the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, the conference participants from 59 states and a number of international organisations discussed the parameters for this recovery process, resulting in the Lugano Declaration and the Lugano Principles. "This gives us a compass to guide us, even in the dark times we are currently experiencing," said Mr Cassis at the first URC.
The momentum created in Ticino is now continuing in London. At URC2023, the focus will be on specific measures to drive forward reconstruction efforts in Ukraine and how to involve the private sector. Areas that will be prioritised include energy, agriculture, health, digitalisation, critical infrastructure, the role of the regions and demining. To this end, Mr Cassis will also take part in a panel on mine action measures.
As co-organiser of URC2022 in Lugano, Switzerland is also part of the troika together with the UK (URC2023) and Germany (URC2024), each of which holds the URC co-presidency with Ukraine for a period of one year. In this capacity, Mr Cassis will also deliver a speech at the closing plenary of this year's conference.
Switzerland has been closely involved in Ukraine's political reconstruction process before and since URC2022. Last year, for example, Mr Cassis attended conferences in Berlin (25 October) and Paris (13 December) that referred to the Lugano Principles. On 17 January 2023 he officially handed over the URC lead to the UK. Since then, Switzerland has supported the organisation of an international conference on decentralisation and the strengthening of regional and local administrations under Ukraine's reform and reconstruction process. This conference was held by the European Committee of the Regions, the UK, Ukraine and the OECD and was based on the 4th Lugano Principle, which calls for the democratic participation of the Ukrainian population in the country's recovery process.
Swiss efforts to support Ukraine's recovery
Immediately after the start of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, Switzerland initiated a number of measures to help the people affected by the war both in and outside Ukraine. Initial action was primarily in the humanitarian field, as well as support for a number of projects to rebuild damaged civilian infrastructure. The 2023 Action Plan for Ukraine and the region, which the Federal Council adopted on 22 February 2023, also includes mine action projects. Switzerland not only has long-standing experience but also a key platform in this field – International Geneva. Demining will be a central issue at URC2023, and will be explored in depth during a panel discussion that includes Mr Cassis.
Under the Swiss international cooperation strategy for 2025–28, the Federal Council has earmarked CHF 1.5 billion for Ukraine and the region. Together with the credits for 2023–24, Switzerland's aim is to provide at least CHF 1.8 billion over the next six years.
An FDFA-led working group set up in April 2023 in cooperation with the EAER, FDJP and FDF is also exploring how Switzerland can continue to participate in Ukraine's recovery efforts beyond the sphere of international cooperation.
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