Russian war of aggression: Ukraine reconstruction conference: More than 100 agreements

Russian war of aggression: Ukraine reconstruction conference: More than 100 agreements
Russian war of aggression: Ukraine reconstruction conference: More than 100 agreements

With Chancellor Scholz and President Selenskyj, the focus is on political signals. Now the Ukraine support meeting is focusing on concrete projects. How Kyiv’s partners are helping with reconstruction.

Loans for small businesses, more town twinning, training initiatives: According to Development Minister Svenja Schulze, more than 100 agreements were signed at the reconstruction conference for Ukraine in Berlin. These include declarations of intent between companies and between governments as well as agreements for alliances and initiatives, said the SPD politician on Wednesday during an appearance with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Julia Swyrydenko.

Four “Berlin dimensions” of reconstruction have been defined: the business, the human, the local and the EU dimension, said Schulze. The format is not a donor conference to raise money, but rather it is about networking. According to Schulze, more than 3,000 representatives from politics, business and international organizations took part in the two-day conference. Three key results:

Alliance to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises

Together with 12 other countries and 17 development organizations, Germany and Ukraine have launched an alliance to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises. “Ukraine needs a strong economy to survive the war and rebuild what has been destroyed,” said Schulze.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered the backbone of the Ukrainian economy. According to the German government, they contribute two-thirds of the value added in Ukraine and create more than 80 percent of jobs there. The new alliance is concerned, among other things, with cheap loans for such companies.

“One of the most effective levers for reconstruction is concessional financing for small and medium-sized Ukrainian companies,” said Schulze. Total commitments amounted to over 7 billion euros for ongoing and new SME programs. Of this amount, over 4.5 billion euros went to new programs.

Svyrydenko said that small and medium-sized companies play “a key role in the reconstruction of the country.” Medium-sized companies have been hit particularly hard by the Russian invasion. The minister spoke of a crucial contribution to the future of Ukraine and its current resilience.

Boosting reconstruction with town twinning

Germany is calling for the expansion of town twinning. “Let us work together so that every Ukrainian municipality has at least one international partner,” Schulze demanded at a forum with German and Ukrainian mayors. A German-Ukrainian partnership network includes over 200 municipalities. In total, there are more than 2,200 Ukrainian partnerships with municipalities in around 60 countries – especially in Poland, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania.

1000 small Ukrainian municipalities still without partnerships

Overall, however, only around a third of the almost 1,500 Ukrainian municipalities have a partnership with a municipality elsewhere – 1,000 municipalities, often small ones, are still without partners, said Schulze. “For the reconstruction of Ukraine and its integration into the EU, it is necessary to have everyone on board,” she stressed. Together with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, a networking app is being developed that municipalities can use to create their own profiles and search for partners.

Among those present were the mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, as well as the mayors of Lviv on the border with Poland, the Polish city of Gdansk, as well as Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg and Teltow in Brandenburg, all of which have partnerships with Ukrainian cities. “We are strongest together,” said the mayor of Teltow, Thomas Schmidt, whose municipality has a trilateral partnership with the Ukrainian city of Khotyn and a Polish city.

Initiative for training starts

Germany and more than 50 international organizations, states and companies are launching an initiative to train 180,000 specialists for reconstruction. “No matter how many times Russia destroys power lines, hospitals or buildings, the Ukrainians will have the knowledge and skills to rebuild them,” Schulze said on Tuesday. The members of the Skills Alliance for Ukraine for reconstruction will provide a total of more than 700 million euros for this purpose.

Source: Stern

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