Hundreds of companies gathered in Rome on Wednesday to discuss reconstruction efforts in Ukraine. It is a bilateral conference that is also one of the Italian government’s main initiatives regarding Kyiv.
This event is not the first of its kind in Europe, Germany and France have already organised conferences to discuss reconstruction efforts. The European Union has also provided Ukraine with around €49 billion in military, humanitarian and financial aid.
But some critics have questioned the potential impact of the event.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni used the conference to urge European allies to accelerate Ukraine’s European Union membership bid.
“The future of Ukraine must always include a wider capacity of integrating with European dynamics and institutions,” Meloni said, in joint statements with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on the sidelines of the conference.
“The smartest way to thank Ukrainians for what they are doing is to accelerate their chances of being part of European institutions. We need to acknowledge Kyiv’s enormous efforts to reform its system and bring it closer to targets required by the EU Commission,” Meloni added, urging a quick start to the negotiations needed to grant Ukraine full EU membership.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the conference attracted over a thousand companies, including hundreds from Ukraine. He stressed that the Italian initiative was part of a wider process, as both Germany and France already held their own bilateral conferences with Ukrainian firms in October and December, respectively, while G7 countries launched a Donor Coordination Platform in February.
“I know that the representatives of many Italian companies are listening to me and I’d like to speak to them not just as the representatives of businesses, but also as parents,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a live video address to the Rome conference.
“Even if hundreds of our villages have been burned down by Russian missile attacks, we are ready to bring them back to life,” he said. “We want to reconstruct them with modern standards, so that our people can live like millions of others, in security … And we invite your companies to build this future for all.”
A World Bank report has estimated it will cost Ukraine €372 billion over the next 10 years to recover and rebuild from the war launched by Russia. The report predicts Kyiv will require €12.7 billion for critical and priority reconstruction, as well as recovery investments in 2023 alone.
“Ukraine will win this war and our victory will be restoring our territorial integrity. We won’t stop until we reach this goal,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who was also in Rome, told the conference.
“We are making a miracle by doing trade and moving ahead with reforms, so please don’t consider the war an obstacle on your business way to Ukraine,” Kuleba added, stressing that reconstruction has already started even though the war is still raging.
Watch our report from Rome in the video player above to learn more.