We are meeting here in Kyiv today at a critical moment of support to Ukraine in overcoming its crisis, and rebuild peace and prosperity. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed far too many lives already and is causing enormous suffering.
The future course of events concerns us all. Ukraine faces enormous challenges. In addition to ending the violent conflict in the east, seeking national reconciliation and restoring territorial integrity, these challenges include implementing a broad set of reforms and improving the country’s financial situation.
The main message I wish to convey tonight is this: Switzerland, its government and its citizen’s stay committed to support Ukraine. We will do whatever is necessary to promote dialogue and a return to peace. We will help those who have been victims of violent confrontation, and provide immediate humanitarian as well as long term bilateral assistance. Switzerland’s resolve to contribute to a better future for Ukraine and to overcoming the broader crisis of European security is strong, focusing on the three following priorities:
First, Switzerland continues supporting the efforts of the OSCE to defuse the Ukraine crisis, working now closely with Serbia and Germany in the OSCE Troika. Switzerland remains also a strong supporter of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
Second, Switzerland is providing humanitarian assistance and has so far contributed to several large-scale multilateral aid programmes. Moreover, the Swiss Aid Agency is getting directly involved on the ground. This week, the first trucks should be underway to bring urgently needed chemical reagents for the operation of the regional drinking water system, managed by Donbass Water Services in Donetsk. Other interventions will comprise targeting vulnerable population on both sides of the frontline; the provision of medical equipment and the support to “Mobile Primary Healthcare Units”. Swiss staff will continue to be seconded to international humanitarian organizations to support improved coordination.
Third, Switzerland’s is committed to our long-term bilateral engagement in Ukraine. The new Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Ukraine extends this long-standing cooperation between our two countries for another four years (2015-2018). We have decided to double the budget for this new period to approximately USD 100 million.
For the first time the Strategy comprises a peacebuilding component. This allows for longer-term bilateral efforts to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict by promoting dialogue, human rights and international humanitarian law. Another key aspect of the Cooperation Strategy is decentralization and local governance. Further themes include support for healthcare reform, for sustainable and efficient energy management, and for making Ukraine more business-friendly.
Ladies and gentlemen
Key for sustainable stabilisation in Ukraine is to make progress on the reform agenda. All mentioned Swiss priorities above correspond to major reform needs of Ukraine.
Let me now focus on decentralisation, a key area for achieving a comprehensive political settlement to the armed conflict. Switzerland co-leads the donor sector group and has increased its strong programmatic focus on decentralisation for the period 2015-2018. A characteristic of Swiss-funded projects is the strong link to the situation on the ground, which allows the necessary “reality check” of new legislative models. Our projects develop and pilot models of decentralized service provision, improving the access of people to clean water, sanitation and a functioning solid waste management system. Thanks to that experience we are convinced of the following: As Ukraine continues on its reform path, it must include and involve all sections of society, as the consent and support of the wider population is essential. In addition, “quick wins” need to be identified and implemented, combined with a comprehensive and long-term vision of the reform, including a roadmap.
Switzerland remains committed and will strive, together with our Ukrainian colleagues and other donors, on making donor support for Ukraine’s political and economic reforms well-coordinated and more effective.
Thank you for your attention.