Volodymyr Zelensky: By investing in the recovery of Ukraine, you are investing in a future member of the EU
President’s speech at the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine
I congratulate you on behalf of the Ukrainian people! And thank you for this conference, which brings the return of normal life to our country closer.
I have now heard the speech of Mr. Chancellor and I have also heard Distinguished Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen. And then I looked at my speech and realized that we could have exchanged speeches and nothing would have changed. And that’s not bad. This means that we see the future of Europe, security, the world, and the future of Ukraine in approximately the same way. But I would like to dwell on some priorities.
First of all, I would like to note your words, Mr. Chancellor, which were spoken yesterday. You said that whoever invests in the restoration of Ukraine invests in a future member of the European Union. These are very important words. Significant ones. I believe that they will be heard by all Europeans and global economic players.
Your words fully reflect the meaning of our conference and the entire cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, our country and your countries. We become one – and this is irreversible. A united, strong, free and values-based Europe. Peaceful Europe! This is possible only with Ukraine.
I would also like to immediately thank you, Mrs. President of the European Commission, for your sincere and consistent support of our country.
I know that you, Mrs. Ursula, share this opinion of Mr. Chancellor regarding the future membership of Ukraine. And I am sure that together with you and all our friends in the European Union, we will soon realize the vision of the majority of Europeans – the vast majority in all EU countries. The vision of Ukraine as part of the EU.
Now we have reached the level in relations that Ukraine has long deserved. The importance and scale of our country is being realized. People know what we can give to our common European home. People see what we already give. And all of you – participants of the Conference – know very well what we can give.
Ukraine is the physical security of Europe against any new attack of Russian tyranny. It is Ukraine that can guarantee and will guarantee that Russian revanchism will not break our European home.
Ukraine is the energy security of Europe – and not only of our neighbors. When we free our entire territory from Russian invaders, the European Union will be able to replace dirty Russian energy resources with our help. And our export of electricity – potentially tens of gigawatts – will be one of the fundamental pillars of European climate policy.
Ukraine is already a guarantor of world food security. And therefore, we also guarantee the predictability of migrant flows to the territory of the European Union. The more efficient our agricultural production is and the more important our food exports are, the calmer the social situation is in all those regions of the planet from which waves of migrants to Europe are possible.
And one more thing is industrial activity. Our industrial culture, our natural resources, geographical location, and social traditions allow us to give a new impetus to the economic life of the entire EU thanks to the combination of Ukrainian and pan-European potentials. This is economic growth and jobs – for Ukrainians and for all Europeans.
You know all this one hundred percent.
And you know that this is exactly why Russia needs control over Ukraine. This is not just some political ambition. These are very clear security, energy, food, industrial calculations. Calculations that will not come true for Russia. Never. The Ukrainian people will defend their state, their freedom. And the invaders are already aware of this.
This is one of the reasons for their beastly cruelty. One of the motives of their terror is to destroy something that will not work for them, but can strengthen all of us – Ukrainians, Europeans. As a result of such Russian terror, hundreds of thousands of objects were destroyed.
A port or a train station, a school or a hospital, a residential building or a car service station, a factory or a bakery, a grain elevator or a power plant… Russia destroys all of this.
Destroys to make it harder for us to endure this winter. So that Ukrainians could not recover from this war for as long as possible. So that you will not be able to integrate the Ukrainian economic potential and the pan-European potential for as long as possible.
Missiles and Iranian combat drones have destroyed more than a third of the energy industry alone… And this is before winter!
We must stand together against it. This is how I perceive the mission of this conference. And I urge you to consider all this from the point of view of security – its four elements.
We need security on land. We work for it together, establishing defense cooperation. We need security in the sky. And we work for it, negotiating the supply of air defense systems. We need financial security and we work for it at many levels – the IMF, the World Bank, the European Union, the United States and other partners. And the fourth level is our institutional capacity. The way we implement all our reinforcement programs and reconstruction programs now, while the war is still going on, and those designed for the post-war period.
And I urge you now to focus not only on the fourth element – “how”. But remember the third element as well – “what”. We need to fill our work with real funding – for the sake of restoring Ukraine.
I thank you – the European Union as a whole and each EU country in particular that helps – for the support already provided to our state. However, we should give this support a more systemic character.
I believe that we can now adopt a decision on the establishment of a “financial Ramstein” to maintain our common stability – by analogy with the “defense Ramstein” which is already functioning.
We need a financial coordination platform that will unite and direct all the efforts aimed at rebuilding our country after hostilities. Consolidation is needed – clear and timely direction of resources. This is exactly how what we talked about in Lugano with President Cassis – at the first conference on our recovery – must continue.
We have developed a transparent plan of priority steps in reconstruction – this is what Ukraine literally needs to survive. Not tomorrow, not next year. Not at a conference in Britain… Right now!
The weight of our Fast Recovery Plan is $17 billion for critical immediate reconstruction. These are hospitals, schools, vital transport and energy infrastructure.
We have a huge need for housing reconstruction. Where Russian tanks and artillery methodically destroyed cities… Kyiv region, Chernihiv region, Sumy region, Kharkiv region… It is necessary to give people a new foundation for life already now. But can we give it?
We have not yet received a single cent for the implementation of the Fast Recovery! I urge you to bring the necessary decisions closer.
In order to speed up the process of involving partners in our reconstruction, I initiated the creation of the Fund for the Reconstruction of Ukraine. As a key institution. It is important that 75% of the Fund’s supervisory board will consist of representatives of donor countries. This is transparency, but this is also responsibility. The fund is to start working next month.
Likewise, now – already at this Conference – it is necessary to adopt a decision on assistance to cover the deficit of our state budget next year.
For Ukraine, this is an unsustainable amount – a deficit of 38 billion dollars. These are salaries of teachers, doctors, social benefits, pensions. Significant funds. But our association is powerful enough to implement such a task as well.
This potential is available. This potential exists in particular thanks to the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions. Our dialogue continues. And I believe that it will develop from abstract numbers to specifics. A specific amount of funding, with specific sources.
This should also be discussed today.
Especially since the Ukrainian potential is such that we can give much more in return!
This is what Russia is fighting for, this is what reconstruction means for Ukraine, this is what victory means for Ukraine and this is what peace in Ukraine means.
Ukraine is a guarantee of security. Ukraine is our joint development. Ukraine is gratitude.
When our actions meet our values and our approaches are coordinated, we achieve results that were unimaginable until recently.
We have such results on the battlefield. We have such results in economic and social adaptation to war conditions. We have such results in our integration with the institutions of the European Union. And we can achieve them in ensuring the stability of Ukraine and in the reconstruction of Ukraine – already now.
Let the aggressor see that his goal is unattainable. And all our common goals are realized.
And of course – we must decide on the specifics of how the mechanism of compensation by the aggressor state for all losses caused by this war will work.
Russian assets – those that have already been frozen, and those that still need to be frozen, are significant. A significant part of these assets is in the jurisdictions of European countries. We need compensation – and this is fair. And therefore, we need a real, fast, legal mechanism for directing Russian assets to compensate for the losses caused by the Russian war.
I urge you to devote time to this issue today as well.
I thank you for your attention! Thank you for your support!
Glory to Ukraine!