On Apr 26, Prime Minister Shmyhal and other officials met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome for the Bilateral Conference on Ukraine Reconstruction. After a similar meeting in Paris on last Dec. 13, where Macron brought together French companies to push them to participate in reconstruction, Italy also wants to play a leading role in this challenge, planning a strategy before the conflict ends.
This is the message that the government wanted to give to over five hundred Italian and Ukrainian companies which, along with international financial institutions and associations, gathered in Rome for an all-round discussion on infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, health, digital, aerospace and steel industries.
The Ukrainian delegation, made up of Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Economic Development Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti and Minister for Economic Development Adolfo Urso.
Participants learned which financial instruments will be offered for reconstruction by international institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, EIB and EBRD. According to Gelsomina Vigliotti, vice-president of the European Investment Bank: “$14 billion are needed for Ukraine’s most urgent priorities in 2023.”
The Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment report presented by the World Bank at the Conference estimated the damage caused by destruction in the first year of the war at $411 billion, not including Russian-occupied areas.
During the plenary session at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Rome, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni publicly nominated Italy to host the Conference for the recovery of Ukraine in 2025 (Ukraine Recovery Conference). Furthermore, she confirmed her support for Ukraine and the 10-point peace plan presented by Zelensky.
“Dear Prime Minister [Shmigal], we are ready to build a new page of our common history together. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: ‘If you want to build a boat, don't gather men to cut wood, to divide tasks, to give orders, but teach them the nostalgia of the sea,’” said Meloni.
“To rebuild a war-torn nation, money, engineers and architects, workers are not enough, even if they will be needed. What is needed is the nostalgia for freedom and that sentiment for one’s own future that the Ukrainian people have been able to demonstrate so well. Therefore, the reconstruction is possible and inevitable.”
And she concluded: “Every school, every house, every hospital, every bell tower that we rebuild together in Ukraine will be a piece of the foundation of the whole of Europe.”
Particularly touching was the speech by Dmytro Kuleba, who has a special relationship with Italy, who made an appeal to Italian entrepreneurs: “Do not consider the war an obstacle between you and your business in Ukraine,” he said.
“Many years ago, when Odessa was prosperous, there were many people who spoke in Italian, and even the signs on the streets were in Italian.”
He said at the end: “In the dark moments you have been by our side.”
A new strategy for the future of Ukraine was therefore launched at the Congress Palace, with some concrete steps: various memoranda of understanding were signed, from railways to hydroelectric, passing through the development of the ‘Made in Ukraine’ brand, and a personal commitment by the Minister of Enterprise Adolfo Urso.
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