Budapest Forum 2022: Cities as warzone and Rebuilding Ukraine – Living During and After History



Sofia Oliynyk, Program Coordinator “Democracy Support and Human Security”, Heinrich Boell Foundation, Kyiv Office Ukraine

Edwin Bendyk, Chairman Of The Board, Stefan Batory Foundation

Kálmán Mizsei, EU High Level Adviser on Confidence Building Measures to the Republic Moldova


Moderator: Péter Csunderlik, Historian, Assistant Professor at Eötvös Loránd University, Research Fellow at Institute of Political History


Main takeaways

  • This war is not only fought by Russia against Ukraine, but also by authoritarians against democracy. Thus the war can be conceptualized as Ukraine’s fight for democracy and “Enlightenment” values.
  • When Ukraine wins the war, there will be a lot of challenges to reconstruction - not only the damaged and destroyed infrastructure but also to continue democratic development. Given the magnitude of reconstruction, it is important to plan it in advance and not to wait for the war to be over.
  • The trauma from the horrors of war - death, torture, rape - is significant and must be dealt with as well.
  • It has been estimated that the cost of reconstruction may be around 300 billion Euros.
  • 90 per cent of Ukrainians do not want to make any concessions to Russia in order to end the war - a unity of opinion that perhaps has never been seen before.
  • It is paramount to establish trust in the Ukrainian government for financial support to be secured. On the one hand, President Zelensky has used the war to consolidate his power - which is understandable under the circumstances -, however, it will need to be seen if this tendency continues after the war. On the other hand, transparency needs to be ensured in spending the funds aimed at reconstruction. Involving civil society can help in this regard as well. On another note, corruption has significantly dicreased during the war, which, if upheld after the war, will play an important role in establishing trust.

Policy recommendations

  • A well-coordinated international aid system needs to be established to help the reconstruction in Ukraine, perhaps with a conditionality system to ensure the reforms which are needed to reach the goal of EU membership, are implemented.
  • German Marshall Fund: four stages of reconstruction: relief, reconstruction, modernization, and EU accession.
  • We, as the West, should not take a paternalistic stance of “transfering” knowledge to Ukraine. Instead, Ukraine has to develop independently, but with support from the West. Civil society must to be involved as NGOs and other civil society actors have more direct expertise. 


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