Five things you should know about the Ukraine Lugano conference
The Lugano conference on Ukraine, planned well before Russia invaded the country, was initially intended to discuss reforms in the country before refocusing on reconstruction. Ukraine’s allies, international institutions and the private sector are meeting in Switzerland on Monday and Tuesday to draft a draft “Marshall Plan”. Here are five things you should know about the Lugano Conference on July 4th and 5th.
- From reforms to reconstruction
The Lugano conference had been planned well before the war to discuss reforms and the fight against corruption, but the February 24 invasion of Russia turned the meeting into a forum to discuss Ukraine’s reconstruction.
It must give Kyiv, which is in dire need of funding, the opportunity to present its recovery plan and discuss with all stakeholders how best to meet the challenges ahead.
“Lugano will be one of the first, if not the first, platform to discuss Ukraine’s reconstruction, concrete steps and a plan”, explained Artem Rybchenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Switzerland. The conference should conclude with a joint declaration in which the “Focus, Method and Principles” this Ukrainian recreation.
The Swiss hosts had hoped to personally greet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but Prime Minister Denys Shmygal will lead the largest delegation to leave the country since the start of the war, including six ministers, parliamentarians and regional leaders, due to the conflict.
“President Zelenskyj was involved in the preparation from the start”, underlined the ambassador. He will conduct an online intervention as he is used to.
A total of eight heads of government, 15 ministers and 38 countries will be represented, as well as 14 organisations, 350 private sector representatives and 210 civil society representatives.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has agreed to attend, as have the heads of government of Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Federal President Ignazio Cassis, who is also responsible for foreign affairs, has great ambitions for the conference.
She aspires to outline the reconstruction strategy inspired by the Marshall Plan, an American initiative that made it possible to rebuild a Europe devastated by World War II.
But Lugano will not be a donor conference. “This is a conference where we will discuss how we want to start this process” Recovery, emphasized the special envoy responsible for the conference, Simon Pidoux. He sees it as a compass.
Rebuilding the country will take many years and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It is the responsibility of the participants to examine the proposals and offers of entries.
- Corruption, digital democracy
Ukraine will also face calls for far-reaching reforms, particularly in the fight against corruption. The former Soviet state has long been ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world by the NGO Transparency International.
In Europe, only Russia and Azerbaijan fare worse, and given the sums involved, the issue is important. The Federal President spoke of an obligation to monitor financial flows.
President Volodymyr Zelensky will present his vision of a “intelligent recovery” at the conference, including plans to transform Ukraine into a fully digital democracy.
The picturesque city of Lugano, which with its palm trees, its arcades and its piazza has the flair of an Italian Mediterranean city, lies on the shore of the lake of the same name, embedded in a spectacular mountain circus. Just a stone’s throw from the Italian border, it is one of the three most important financial centers in Switzerland, but also a holiday and leisure resort. It’s popular with rich and famous Russians, including Alina Kabaeva, who is credited with a long affair with President Vladimir Putin.
Swiss and regional authorities said strict security measures would be put in place: airspace restrictions and the presence of hundreds of military personnel to assist regional law enforcement. Ticino Prime Minister Norman Gobbi was optimistic about the success of the conference. “It is our small contribution to European security and therefore also ours”he said.