President of Ukraine

Speech by Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano

4 July 2022 - 20:07

Speech by Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano

I would like to start my speech today with the word "kintsugi". This concept is deeply rooted in the culture of Japan. The country whose people are excellent at both recovery and innovation. This is the art of restoring ceramics with gold. Seemingly damaged things continue to serve, but the value of these things, with memory, history, and at the same time modernized, increases significantly. I would say that today our Ukraine needs its kintsugi.

Colleagues, on behalf of the government and people of Ukraine, I thank you for all the efforts you make to help us at this time of great challenges. Your support helps us endure and win, restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state.

However, there is much other work ahead. Ukraine needs reconstruction and reproduction in the literal, physical sense of the word. Russia spent tens of billions on its destruction. Hundreds of billions will be needed for recovery. Unfortunately, it is true.

This is a direct consequence of this terrible war. The consequence of the imperial ambitions of the Kremlin. Encroachments that were fueled by indecisiveness, the desire of the world community to do anything to preserve the usual order and the hope for common sense. The hope that turned out to be futile.

Russia has turned into a weapon not only its energy and our food, but also your desire to preserve peace. And this weapon also caused a lot of damage to Ukraine.

A burglar breaks into not the richest house on the street, but the one that is easier to rob.

The burglar leaves, and the robbed and smashed dwelling falls into decay. It spoils the appearance of the street and attracts trouble. You know how it goes. This is life practice and scientific theory. The theory of "broken windows" proves a simple truth: the way your neighbors live directly affects the price of your property. By helping our neighbors, we also improve our own well-being.

Helping Ukraine today is a way to remove the contradiction between the politics of values and realpolitik. This is not only a matter of moral choice - it is also an investment in European and world security.

However, we have a much more serious problem than the criminal. We are dealing with a criminal state. And here we face two tasks. The first is to create such a system of security guarantees for Ukraine that will make it impossible to repeat Russian aggression.

It is good that democratic governments have understood the level of this threat. It is good that they are ready to strengthen international defense alliances and build a new system of international security. It should be based on economic, legal and power cooperation.

Our second task is to force Russia to fully pay for its crimes in every sense of the word. After all, no one will be able to return tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens killed by Russia.

According to generally accepted principles, a violation of international law entails an obligation to pay reparations. Therefore, the reconstruction of Ukraine must take place primarily at the expense of the aggressor. Hence, Ukraine offered to conclude an international treaty that would create a special compensation mechanism. It should allow compensation for the damage caused by the Russian war to Ukraine and Ukrainians at the expense of the aggressor.

Russia refuses to play by the rules of the civilized world. We have no illusions about its intentions to take any part in the compensation - obviously that's not going to happen. Therefore, the mechanism proposed by Ukraine provides for the use of Russian assets located abroad for the payment of compensation.

Ukraine insists that this mechanism should operate in full compliance with the principle of the rule of law. We understand: there is a lot of work ahead. Including changes in the national legislation of the states.

We are already communicating with our partners to identify and implement these mechanisms. We welcome Canada's adoption of the law that allows for the confiscation of public and private assets whose owners are related to violations of international law and human rights. We are waiting for similar steps from other partner states. And we will be happy to work together so that the terrorist state and its accomplices cannot hide their assets in foreign jurisdictions with impunity. The more countries join this work, the faster Ukraine will be able to rebuild its destroyed economy.

The sooner the compensation mechanism will be implemented, the more effectively the assets of the aggressor state will be converted into funds for the recovery of lives of Ukrainians, the less financial burden our partners will have to bear.

This recovery, I emphasize once again, should be paid for by the guilty state, the criminal state, the terrorist state. But we cannot wait. We already have tens of thousands of destroyed homes today. Thousands of destroyed infrastructure facilities. Hundreds of destroyed schools and hospitals. Millions of homeless people. We need to rebuild the country right now.

The reconstruction plan of Ukraine also provides for systemic internal reforms that will maximally integrate our country into the European and Euro-Atlantic community. The National Recovery Council has identified 15 "national programs" to accelerate Ukraine's recovery and achieve growth goals.

The plan that the entire Ukrainian delegation is presenting in Lugano today not only shows our vision of the process and pace of this reconstruction. It ensures full transparency of the distribution of funds and the financing chain of reconstruction works and is built in a way to ensure full trust of donors in the executors.

We can implement most of this plan after the war. But there is a necessary minimum that must be implemented now. This part - we call it Fast Recovery - provides for the restoration of the housing stock, the accommodation of temporarily displaced persons, the reconstruction of educational and medical institutions, as well as the reconstruction of critical infrastructure facilities.

We are creating an online platform for transparent and effective implementation of the recovery plan. It will contain a list of all construction and reconstruction objects with detailed information about them and planned funding amounts. So that any international investor or donor has access to this information. The logic is to completely exclude opportunities for any corruption schemes.

The case of the reconstruction of Ukraine should become a success story for the whole of Europe. Ukraine will be a huge construction and investment site, which can give a boost to the development of European economies. Along with the restoration of transport, energy, housing and communal, medical and educational infrastructure at the best technological level, we will give investors the opportunity to build new enterprises. And we will create the most favorable conditions for this.

A number of countries have already taken patronage over the recovery of our regions. For example, Denmark has already taken patronage over the Mykolaiv region, and Great Britain is ready to take care of the Kyiv region. This format should be extended to the rest of the regions. Our country can become a global showcase of the success of the community of democracies, absorbing all the best at the practical, structural and value levels.

Instead of "how it was", we’ve got a unique chance to do "the best". Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have paid the highest price in the world for this chance of our country - their lives. And we are simply obliged to do everything so that this sacrifice is not futile. Post-war Ukraine should become a state whose value is not limited to the functions of the shield of Europe and the guarantor of food security for 400 million people. It should become a state with which it is pleasant, safe and profitable to do business not only for its own citizens, but also for the whole world. We can do it. You have already seen what Ukrainians are capable of. You see what they are capable of when they have modern weapons. Believe me, with proper investment, the results will be no less impressive. Better make sure of it.

Thank you!