Geneva, Switzerland - Leaders from dozens of countries and international organisations will gather in Switzerland next week to discuss rebuilding Ukraine, with the aim of providing a "Marshall Plan" for the war-ravaged country.
The conference, held in the southern Swiss city of Lugano from July 4 to 5, will seek to lay the foundations for the reconstruction of Ukraine, presenting the priorities for the rebuilding process, aimed to start even as Russia's war in Ukraine continues to rage.
Here are some of the expectations for the conference:
- The event -
The conference had been planned well before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, and had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine before being repurposed for war reconstruction.
It will give Kyiv the chance to share its recovery plan and discuss with countries, organisations and the private sector how to best address the towering challenges ahead.
While not a donor conference, it will underline the broad international support for Ukraine's reconstruction process, organisers said.
"Lugano will be one of the first, and maybe the first platform on recovery of Ukraine,... the roadmap," Kyiv's ambassador in Bern Artem Rybchenko said Thursday.
The conference is expected to conclude with a joint statement: The Lugano Declaration.
- Who is coming? -
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had initially been scheduled to come and co-host the event alongside his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis, but he will now participate virtually instead.
But Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal will head a large Ukrainian delegation of around 100 people in total, Rybchenko told reporters Thursday.
In addition to Shmyhal, Ukraine's top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba and five other government ministers will be present in Lugano, as will the speaker of parliament and a number of MPs and regional leaders.
High-level delegations from 37 other countries and 14 international organisations have also been invited to attend.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will be there, as will the heads of eight governments, including from Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
- Recovery and development plan -
The conference aspires to emulate the wildly successful Marshall Plan, a US initiative that in 1948 began pumping vast sums in foreign aid into Western Europe to help the continent rebuild and recover after World War II.
Rebuilding Ukraine, which four months into the war has already seen devastating destruction, is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
Simon Pidoux, the Swiss ambassador in charge of the conference, said that it was too early to try to estimate all the needs, but said Lugano should help provide "a compass" for the work ahead.
"I think the effort will last for years if not decades,” he said.
The plan will lay out reconstruction needs in terms of damaged and destroyed infrastructure, Ukraine's devastated economy, and also environmental and social recovery needs.
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- Corruption, digital democracy -
Ukraine will also face demands for broad reforms, especially in cracking down on corruption.
The former Soviet state has long been ranked among the world's most corrupt countries by Transparency International. In Europe, only Russia and Azerbaijan ranked worse.
Zelensky will meanwhile present his vision for a "smart recovery" during the conference, including plans to rebuild Ukraine as a fully digital democracy.
EU's von der Leyen urges Ukraine to speed anti-corruption reform
- Setting and security -
The event will take place in the picturesque city of Lugano, in Switzerland's Italian-speaking Ticino region.
Set on the shores of a glacial lake that bears its name and surrounded by majestic, snow-capped mountains, Lugano is a favoured destination for wealthy Russians, including reportedly President Vladimir Putin's alleged girlfriend Alina Kabaeva.
Swiss and regional authorities have said tight security measures will be in place, with airspace restrictions and the national government sending in 1,600 military personnel to assist regional police forces.
Lugano hosted an important League of Nations meeting in 1928, while the neighbouring town was the setting for the 1925 Locarno Treaties.
Those had, not very successfully, sought to set out a territorial settlement after World War I and ensure that Germany would never again go to war.
Ticino's regional government chief Norman Gobbi voiced optimism that the Ukraine Recovery Conference would be more successful.
"This is our small contribution to... European security, and thus our own," he told reporters.
By Nina Larson