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Conference: what post-war Ukraine should look like

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Status: 04.07.2022 04:31

At a conference in Switzerland starting today, Ukrainian experts plan to present plans for post-war reconstruction in the country. Little is expected of the announced “Marshall Plan”.

By Jasper Steinlein, tagesschau.de

Even before the Russian attack, the two-day conference in Lugano had been scheduled as an annual “reform conference” for Ukraine. But now much more urgent questions arise: how will the tormented country, destroyed in many places, be able to get back on its feet once peace is restored? And who will help him? To this end, representatives of the “Ukrainian National Council for Reconstruction” want to present their ideas to the OECD, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations as well as government and business representatives from 40 country.

The country is still in the midst of a struggle for its existence: “We have no idea when the war will end, where it will end, what the country will look like then,” says economics expert Andrian Prokip of the think tank Ukrainian from Kyiv. Institute for the Future” gets straight to the point. Nevertheless, work on the reconstruction sketches has been going on since April: at this time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj talks for the first time with ministers and experts from major consulting firms about the sketches they have prepared; the London Center for Economic Policy Research published an essay at the same time.

Its cornerstones: Ukraine should work resolutely towards EU integration and be given great personal responsibility. It should create incentives for the inflow of capital and technology from abroad and make climate neutrality the basis of new infrastructure. And an independent authority close to the EU should supervise and control the measures taken to implement the historic Marshall Plan after the Second World War, just like the “Economic Cooperation Administration”.

“Marshall Plan” is not a magic word in Kyiv

According to the Ukrainian edition of “Forbes”, such an agency met with little approval in Kyiv – the Ukrainian government would prefer to hold the reins in its own hands. And otherwise, the promise of a “Marshall plan” arouses little enthusiasm in the country: “I do not think that anyone would want to apply the Marshall plan of 70 years ago to Ukraine”, estimates Hlib Wyschlinsky, general manager of the think tank. “Centre for Economic Strategy”. . Conditions in post-war Ukraine are very different from those in Western Europe after World War II – which, by the way, the London expert essay assesses differently.

Expert Prokip believes that the term “Marshall Plan”, which evokes positive associations with the economic miracle in Germany, is not a magic word in Ukraine, but just a synonym for the post-war reconstruction program.

How Kyiv imagines this is to be presented in Lugano by a delegation led by Prime Minister Denis Schmyhal and head of the presidential office Andriy Jermak, who head the National Council for Reconstruction. According to the Ukrainian edition “Forbes”, the document is supposed to be a comprehensive document that deals with both ideas for investment programs and concrete bills for the reforms that are already to be adopted, from the planned integration to the EU to the interim assessment of the war damage.

A destroyed bridge in the kyiv suburb of Iripin.

Image: photo alliance / AA

Committed money is flowing slowly

The central questions are not only unanswered by international partners: what role should donor countries play in the reconstruction process? Is it controlled from Kyiv or from Brussels? And where should countries that have pledged aid get the money they need? Expert Wyschlinskyj has no illusions that it will be difficult for the governments of the G7 and EU countries to explain to their people after the Corona crisis and recession why huge public funds are now expected to flow into Ukraine for years and decades.

He therefore also does not expect preparations to start quickly: “In a way, expectations were higher in April than now. Because now we see that many insurances are only slowly turning into real money…”

How to make the processes transparent for all parties and how to prevent corruption in the Ukrainian oligarchic economy and politics are “matters of secondary urgency”. A point of view that future donor institutions should not share at all. A special report published by the European Court of Auditors in 2021 already came to the conclusion that large-scale corruption – that is, the abuse of power at a high level, in which a few secure advantages at the expense of the large public – “remains a central problem in Ukraine” against which, despite EU support, too little is being done.

Ukraine has high hopes for its new status as an EU candidate: Wyschlinskyj, for example, sees it as a “very rational way” to approach the reconstruction of the country and integration into the EU in close cooperation – so that the rebuilt Ukraine can be seamlessly connected to the internal market can be connected. Russian funds confiscated under the sanctions could also be used for this purpose, he says – London experts also suggest, two of whom are now members of the National Reconstruction Council.

A woman walks past a ruin of the Ochtyrka City Council building in Sumy Oblast.

Image: picture alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com

What does a contemporary economy look like?

Energy expert Prokip stresses that a vision of what the country should look like is needed. Is it a question of rebuilding the infrastructures destroyed and looted by Russia or of building a new modern economy? “The old Ukrainian economy is inefficient, energy-intensive and in many industrial sectors still succeeds the Soviet Union, which was based on the export of raw materials,” he says.

In the older sections of the population, who have remained in the besieged country and who are now likely to constitute an even larger demographic proportion, a paternalistic mentality also prevails: the state must provide factories and jobs – at the same At times, however, the state is also mistrusted of institutions and believed in populists who present themselves as tribunes of the people for their own enrichment. These Ukrainians are unlikely to be open to a reorientation towards the IT and creative industries or towards immigrant workers, for example from Asia and Africa.

Workers recruited from abroad as so-called guest workers helped post-World War II Germany turn “economic miracle” into lasting prosperity. It is debatable whether Ukraine can do without it: more than ten percent of the population have fled, and as the war progresses many may start a new life abroad – and then stay there, suspect two economists.

Prokip points out: “Not everyone who could succeed abroad goes there”. But Vyshlinskyj warns: “We could end up in a situation where money is flowing into Ukraine after the war, but no one is there to use it.

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Source www.tagesschau.de

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