https://www.dw.com-Germany and the EU are hosting an international conference to discuss the reconstruction of Ukraine, a task that Chancellor Olaf Scholz said is “never to soon to tackle.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also addressed participants at the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernization of Ukraine via video call.
“We do not know when this war will end. But end it will,” Scholz said in his opening remarks.
“And when it does, we will continue to stand by Ukraine and its struggle for security, freedom and democracy,” he added.
“We know that no two countries’ history are the same. But from our own historical experience, we also know that reconstruction is always possible and that it is never too soon to tackle this task,” Scholz said.
Scholz called for a “Marshall Plan for the 21st century — a generational task that must begin now,” referring to a US initiative that helped rebuild Germany after the Second World War.
DW’s chief political correspondent Nina Haase said Scholz, as the current chair of the G7’s rotating presidency, called this meeting to send a signal to Kyiv that the West is not only supporting Ukraine during the war, but is already thinking of the country’s recovery.
“They’re not sending a signal to Ukraine [that] ‘we are helping you now but somehow our solidarity will soften over time.’ We are standing by you for the next couple of decades, we want to bring you into the European Union,” said Haase.
Supporting a ‘future member’ of the EU
In her opening speech, Von der Leyen reiterated the EU’s commitment to helping Ukraine, from relief for the country’s daily survival, including paying wages and pensions, to post-war reconstruction and modernization.
She noted that Ukraine currently holds EU candidate status, adding that supporting Kyiv would benefit the bloc on the long-term.
“We have no time to waste, the scale of destruction is staggering. The World Bank puts the cost of the damage at €350 billion ($345 billion),” von der Leyen said.
Zelenskyy echoed her remarks, saying: “Those who invest in the reconstruction of Ukraine are investing in the reconstruction of a future member of the [European Union].”
Not a ‘donor conference’
The event — attended by experts, representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society — is aimed at discussing sustainable tools for Ukraine’s reconstruction rather than making financial pledges, Berlin said.
Scholz stressed that the event “is not a regular donor conference,” but is “more fundamental than that.”
Tuesday’s event comes a day after a Ukrainian-German economic forum in Berlin, where Scholz appealed to Kyiv to further improve the framework conditions for investment.
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fb/es (AFP, dpa)