4. 7. 202215:36

Speech by Prime Minister Petr Fiala at the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine

On July 4, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, is participating in the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine in Lugano, Switzerland, where he delivered a speech during the first plenary session.

Mr. president, presidents, prime ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

thank you very much for the invitation and for the opportunity to address you. We meet here in Lugano for the 5th time.

As in previous years, this year we planned to talk about helping Ukraine with reforms that would bring it even closer to the Western community, or about a good governance based on the rule of law.

Instead, we are here to talk about defence of Ukraine and its reconstruction.

The reconstruction of a country that, until 24 February this year, was functioning normally, was prospering, and working for better life of its people.

Part of the country was already occupied, but Ukraine was not threatening anyone and was not attacking anyone.

Then came 24 February and the Russian attack.

Europe changed. 

I think I am not the only one who would wake up every night since that day to see whether Kyiv is still standing and is independent.

At the beginning many of us didn´t believe, it could became reality.

Kyiv, thanks to President Zelensky's leadership, has defended itself, and most of Ukraine as well.    

Volodymyr Zelensky, Denys Shmyhal and their team gave people courage and the will to fight every day.

When I arrived in Kyiv on 15 March, together with the Prime Ministers of Poland and Slovenia — at that time, there was still a curfew, checkpoints and roadblocks everywhere - then I understood the reason why the city had not fallen.

Every Ukrainian I met showed determination and the will to fight for their freedom.

This only reinforced my belief that we must not leave Ukraine without help.

My country — the Czech Republic — started supplying arms to Ukraine even before the war. We continue to do so today. And we will continue to supply them in the next weeks and months.

On the territory of our country, 370 000 Ukrainian women, children and the elderly have found refuge. More than 3.5 % of our population.

On 1 July, the Czech Republic took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The original priorities we had a few months ago are now significantly changed.

We had to respond to the war, so a support for Ukraine, its post-war reconstruction, and also managing the refugee wave became the number one priority.

These three aspects are closely linked.

In order to rebuild, we must help Ukraine to defend itself. We must continue supplying arms, humanitarian aid, but also money for day-to-day operations.

In order for Ukraine to defend itself, its defenders must be sure that their women and children are safe. That is why we are talking about managing the refugee wave.

To be frank, I do not know when the full reconstruction of Ukraine can start.     

But I do know, however, that we must be prepared.     

We can already start repairing some of the destroyed towns, so that people can return home. We can already see people returning to their homes every day, and we must make it easier for them.

Two weeks ago, Ukraine and Moldova achieved EU candidate status. This was a clear signal that we are counting on these countries. That we will not leave them.

It is obvious, that a substantial part of the reconstruction will be on the shoulders of the European States and the European Union as such.

That is natural.

We must show leadership, but we must also work with others. With all the G7 countries, with the United Nations, with the World Bank and with the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions.

We must simply involve the whole civilised world in the future reconstruction of Ukraine.

That is why I promise that we will cooperate as much as possible with the European Commission and the European Parliament during our Presidency of the EU Council.

We have no easy tasks ahead of us.

But we will not let Ukraine down and I´m convinced that even Europe will emerge from this crisis stronger, safer and more resilient.

Thank you very much.

Petr Fiala, Prime Minister