German Development Minister Svenja Schulze has warned of the Herculean effort that would be required to rebuild Ukraine, at an international conference to establish a framework for post-war reconstruction.
“This is not a project for one year or two,’’ Schulze told dpa in the Swiss city of Lugano, where the talks were being conducted.
A map of the damage had brought home the dimension of the task at hand, she said.
“We need the whole world in this,’’ the minister added.
The talks come as Russia doubles down on its efforts to seize full control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, after capturing the key city of Lysychansk on Sunday.
As the talks started on Monday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal put the cost of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure at 750 billion dollars.
This also presented an opportunity for German industry, Schulze said, noting that Ukraine is a big country.
Before the war, it had around 44 million inhabitants.
“It’s a big population, and it’s interesting of course for an export nation like Germany to be represented there,’’ the minister added.
In particular, she stressed the importance of preparing for winter, so people have not just a roof over their heads, but also a warm home.
“The heating season begins in September, October already and getting it done in this short time will be a huge effort.’’
According to her, the Ukraine Recovery Conference is expected to conclude with a declaration agreed upon by the Ukrainian government, donor nations and international organisations setting out a framework for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the challenge presented by rampant corruption.
He promised maximum transparency in all reconstruction projects, in a video addressed to the conference.
Ukraine was recently ranked 122 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s corruption index.
Zelensky said that his government was working hard to create digital platforms for all state services to make embezzlement and bribery harder to get away with.
“Corruption is a problem,’’ Markus Berndt of the European Investment Bank told dpa.
“But there are two developments that make me optimistic, firstly, Ukrainians’ relationship with the government and authorities has improved as a result of the war.
“They know what they have in terms of state structures and what they pay taxes for.
“For another, the prospect of EU accession gives a clear framework to implement reforms,’’ Berndt noted. (dpa/NAN)