Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023: Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for continued support for Ukraine recovery based on Lugano Principles.

Press releases, 22.06.2023

At the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in London, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis called for continued support for Ukraine’s recovery based on the Lugano Principles. He also outlined the areas where Switzerland intends to focus its support. These include assistance for Ukraine's humanitarian mine action.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis stands at a lectern and speaks. The logo of the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 can be seen on the front of the lectern.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis speaking at the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in London. © Keystone

Speaking at the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in London, the head of the FDFA called for the political recovery process to be continued on a joint basis. The framework for this process was established in July 2022, when 59 states and international organisations convened in Lugano to agree on the process parameters. These were subsequently set out in the Lugano Declaration and Lugano Principles. In his address to the URC2023, Mr Cassis reminded participants that "The task of recovery Ukrainians are facing is indeed colossal. But so are our commitment and determination to support Ukraine." Within the framework of the next international cooperation strategy period 2025–28, the Federal Council has reserved funding of around CHF 1.5 billion for Ukraine. Together with the approximately CHF 300 million allocated for 2023–24, this brings the estimated total to around CHF 1.8 billion.

To effectively support the Ukraine recovery process, Switzerland has decided to focus its efforts in three areas: diplomacy, the economy and good governance.

-        In terms of diplomacy, Switzerland will continue to help advance the political process of reconstruction in Ukraine and coordinate its support with the work carried out by all relevant actors. Switzerland is also involved in international discussions on a range of issues, including compensation payments for Ukraine. Mr Cassis welcomed the decision of the Council of Europe during its summit in May 2023 to create a register of damage, calling it an important first step towards the creation of a compensation mechanism for Ukraine.  Switzerland is already helping to evaluate the damage caused by the war against Ukraine. This work will pave the way for closer coordination of repair efforts.

-        In terms of 'economic assistance', Switzerland will focus on developing measures to drive greater private sector participation in the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine. The involvement of the private sector in this process was a major talking point at the URC23; companies from all participating countries were invited to attend. During his visit to London, Mr Cassis also signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EU Commission and several other countries to establish a mechanism to protect future private investments in Ukraine against the risks of war.

-        Good governance: It is important that the recovery process is transparent and readily understood by the people of Ukraine. To this end, Switzerland supports the population by helping to build a better and stronger digital space. One example is EGAP (E-Governance for Accountability and Participation). This project, which is co-sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, facilitates online access to public services, from applying for a new passport to registering a start-up. Around 18.5 million people – half the population of Ukraine – already use this electronic platform. EGAP also develops digital tools for local administrations (e.g. public consultations) and schools (e.g. educational platforms and teaching formats). A third of all municipalities in Ukraine use these online services.

Switzerland is already supporting reconstruction projects currently under way in Ukraine. The focus is on restoring damaged civilian infrastructure, such as water supply and sewerage systems; carrying out urgent repairs in the energy, transport and health sectors; help with procuring rail fastening systems; and fixing damaged homes and electrical, sanitary and heating installations. Switzerland is also involved in evaluating war-related damage in Ukraine and building a database that will make it possible to prioritise repair work more effectively.

Mr Cassis told the URC23 that humanitarian mine action is a key component of the recovery process in Ukraine. During a panel discussion on demining, he cited Switzerland's extensive experience in this field, including the role of International Geneva as a humanitarian mine action hub.

The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining is assisting the Ukrainian authorities with their mine clearance operations. The Fondation suisse de déminage (FSD) is also present on the ground. With support from the federal government, the FSD, which has been working in Ukraine since 2014, is currently helping to demine certain parts of Kharkiv Oblast. The DDPS has presented the SESU, Ukraine’s civilian emergency service, with a demining machine developed and manufactured by the Swiss Digger Foundation. The machine is a remote-controlled caterpillar vehicle the size of a small bulldozer. It can destroy or detonate anti-personnel mines with a cutter, rendering them harmless. "For Switzerland, it will be key to combine the ingenuity of technical experts with the experience of humanitarian actors and the backing of public and private donors", said Cassis, adding that the combination of political and private support for the Ukraine recovery process is entirely true to the spirit of the Lugano Declaration and Lugano Principles. 

Further information:

Panel on humanitarian demining in Ukraine
Humanitarian demining: DDPS presents Ukraine with remote-controlled demining machine
Tradition and principles of humanitarian mine action in Switzerland

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