President of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy takes part in meeting of Congress of Local and Regional Authorities: We all together ensure Ukraine's invincibility, and it is priority

4 March 2023 - 20:46

Volodymyr Zelenskyy takes part in meeting of Congress of Local and Regional Authorities: We all together ensure Ukraine's invincibility, and it is priority

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in the meeting of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the Head of State, held in Lviv.

Zelenskyy said that all members of the Congress, who represent both central authorities and regional leadership, heads of cities and villages, including those currently temporarily occupied, took part in today's meeting in person and online.

Leaders and other representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Verkhovna Rada, the Office of the President, security and defense forces, as well as representatives of partner states of Ukraine were also present at the Congress meeting.

"The major task of this Congress meeting is not only to sum up the key results of the work of public institutions and local authorities during the hardest year for our state – the year of the war but also to determine solutions to make our state even stronger. At all levels, from the central government structures to the management of the country's communities," the President said.

The Head of State thanked everyone present for the fact that Ukraine passed this hard year of the war.

"We have preserved the functionality of the state. We made it so that the presence of the Ukrainian flag means the presence of a normal life, primarily social opportunities. And when we liberate our land from the enemy, everyone realizes it – not only in Ukraine, by the way, but everywhere," Zelenskyy said.

In particular, as the President said, the Ukrainian state is returning to people everything they need for life: transport, communication, social benefits, medical care, electricity, and water supply, as well as restoring infrastructure.

According to him, over UAH 1.5 trillion were distributed last year to ensure defense, UAH 768 billion were sent to pay social payments.
"Despite thousands of Russian attacks, we all together ensure the invincibility of Ukraine. And it is a priority. War. Victory. The invincibility for this victory. All items on our agenda are aimed at this. As a result, our citizens and all people in the world see that Ukraine is a powerful state. Ukraine knows how to protect life," Zelenskyy said.

Among the priority issues, the Head of State named security and defense challenges, social protection of citizens, restoration of institutions in the de-occupied territories, recovery in liberated areas, strengthening the energy capacity of communities, and strategic issues of state development, in particular anti-corruption activities.

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak said that the Congress was created to strengthen the cooperation of authorities at all levels, to discuss the urgent problems of communities and regions, and to unite efforts to overcome them. Amid the war, all these tasks became even more urgent.

"The events of the last year have proven more than once: the life and health of many of our citizens, and sometimes even the success of our defenders on the battlefield, often depend on the position of specific representatives of the authorities, on the activity, speed and quality of our interaction with you. Therefore, as the President emphasized, the issues of defense and security are essential for us today," Yermak said.

He also said that after the victory, the state will face no less serious challenges, including reconstruction and creating conditions for the return of people who were forced to leave their homes due to the war.

"According to the government's calculations, the aggressor has already destroyed or damaged more than 81,000 civil infrastructure objects. More than 62,000 of them are housing stock. More than 2,000 educational institutions. Almost half a thousand hospitals. All this must be restored as soon as possible," the head of the President's Office said.

"We don't just have to rebuild every settlement, housing, and all infrastructure facilities. We should use the opportunity to build them at the level of global best practices," he added.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal emphasized the importance of implementing projects to restore energy facilities, housing, critical infrastructure, humanitarian demining, as well as supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The head of the government said that Ukraine is counting on financial assistance from the United States and the European Union in the matter of fast reconstruction of important infrastructure, in particular energy facilities. In addition, through the UNITED24 fundraising platform initiated by the President, more than UAH 500 million has been raised for fast recovery. Society should see the first results already this year, the Prime Minister said.

"In the future, the large-scale reconstruction will become a mega-project for many years for the entire vertical of the Ukrainian government, and local communities. Our task is to approach this process as efficiently, transparently and qualitatively as possible," Shmyhal said.

The head of the government called on territorial communities to more actively transfer information about objects in need of restoration to the public register.

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk said that regions should play a special role in the creation of compensation mechanisms for damages caused by the aggressor.

"Correct approaches to the register of damages, correct management of funds – it is a component of success, transparency, and trust," he is convinced.

Reporting on the security and humanitarian situation in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories of Ukraine, Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said that almost 20,000 square kilometers of the country's territory have already been liberated from the occupiers. According to him, about 30% of the territory remains potentially dangerous from the point of view of landmine contamination, and humanitarian demining work may take decades.

Klymenko also spoke about the implementation of projects that should ensure the protection of civilians, including in educational institutions, public places, etc. The State Border Guard Service is taking steps to strengthen the state border.

SBU Chief Vasyl Maliuk briefed on the security measures implemented in the de-occupied territories of Ukraine. In particular, employees of the special service are engaged in identifying the enemy's intelligence networks, exposing collaborators, establishing and recording the crimes of the occupiers.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk spoke about working with internally displaced persons, organizing the evacuation of citizens and providing them with assistance. According to her, almost 5 million IDPs are registered in Ukraine today, and their actual number is about 7 million people. Another 5 million Ukrainians found refuge outside the country.

Vereshchuk said that in the current year, the priority will be the temporary integration of displaced persons in their new places of residence and preparation for their return to their places of permanent residence. According to her, the government has developed the internal displacement state policy strategy until 2025 and a step-by-step plan for the implementation of this strategy.

Separately, helping enterprises with relocation to safer regions was discussed. As Vereshchuk reported, more than 790 facilities were moved within the government relocation program in 2022, so it was possible to save 35,000 jobs and create 7,000 new ones.

Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction of Ukraine, Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development Oleksandr Kubrakov reported on plans to restore damaged and destroyed infrastructure and steps to implement such a plan in 2023.

According to him, among the priorities for the current year are the construction of protected energy infrastructure facilities, provision of water supply in the south of Ukraine, restoration of utility networks in de-occupied settlements, construction of bridges and railway tracks in key directions, and expansion of export potential. In addition, as the government official said, three large housing programs will be launched soon.

Deputy Head of the Office of the President Oleksiy Kuleba presented the Office of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities intended to focus on project work, in particular, the creation of a personnel reserve, and the provision of organizational, expert and legal assistance to communities. According to him, the Office would be permanent, and in the future it is possible to open regional offices, in particular where it is necessary, for example, in the de-occupied territories. The structure and leadership of the Congress Office were approved today.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Austrian Association of Municipalities, Mayor of Grafenwörth Alfred Riedl, Mayor of London Sadiq Aman Khan, and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo addressed the participants of the Congress meeting via a video link.

An extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers took place during the Congress meeting, at which the State Anti-Corruption Program for 2023-2025 was approved.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called this an important step for the state in expanding the anti-corruption structure. The program defines steps aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the corruption prevention system in priority areas of public life, such as the judiciary, government regulation of the economy, customs and taxation, public and private sectors, construction, land relations, infrastructure, the defense sector, health care, education, science and social protection, and others, as well as some other steps to eliminate possible corruption factors.