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Ukraine Recovery Conference ‘offers hope’, says prime minister

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (left) talks to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during the Ukraine Recovery Conference on July 4, 2022, in Lugano, Switzerland. © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal travelled to Lugano for the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland. He talked to Swiss public television SRF about his hopes for the future, reconstruction efforts and Ukraine’s fight against corruption.

This content was published on July 5, 2022 - 12:07
Thomas von Grünigen, SRF

Ukraine needs $750 billion (CHF728 billion) for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia's invasion, he told the conference that is being held in the southern Swiss city from July 4-5. Shmyhal and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were among the attendees, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the conference online. 

SRF News: What are your expectations from this summit?

Denys Shmyhal: It offers hope for the future. When the war is over, we will be united with our defence partners. Together we will rebuild our country, because the number of destroyed civilian buildings and destroyed infrastructure is colossal. That is why we need a very clear reconstruction plan now. It is also about the parameters of the future European integration of our country. We understand that we need to rebuild the country better than it was before the war.

Denys Shmyhal has been the prime minister of Ukraine since March 4, 2020. He studied economics at Lviv in western Ukraine. Keystone / Michael Reynolds

SRF News: There has been criticism that the Lugano conference comes too soon, as we don't know what the situation will be like after the war.

D.S.: Actually, it has come just at the right time. Every day the war is resulting in more and more ruins, more destroyed infrastructure and more deaths for our people. But we need to create the parameters by which our country can be rebuilt. And we believe that the first source of finance for reconstruction should be Russian assets that have been confiscated and seized. They could be our state budget. All these funds will allow us to rebuild our country. And we should start now because we all need to think about the future rebuilding.

SRF News: Corruption is apparently still a big problem in Ukraine. Can you give guarantees to the people who invest billions in Ukraine that the money will end up where it belongs?

D.S.: During the war and afterwards, the country and its rule of law and the fight against corruption were and will be restructured. That is priority number one. When the war is over, we will continue all the reforms that we have started with our partners, because they are essential for our future EU membership. That is the crucial issue: to be a member of the EU one day, to be a member of the family of EU member states.

SRF News: Should the West have reacted earlier and helped provide heavy weapons earlier on?

D.S.: We are very grateful to our partners for first providing weapons and ammunition to our country. But we need more. We need them sooner. But we understand the bureaucracy. We are waiting for another shipment of weapons and ammunition. We hope it will come in time, because we need the next delivery of weapons to stabilise the situation on the front and then try to push them back and win the war.

The interview was conducted by Thomas von Grünigen.

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