TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed with the entrepreneurs of various sectors the reconstruction of the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine and how Estonian state institutions and companies could contribute to it.
According to the minister, it is positive to see great interest and readiness among Estonian companies to contribute to the reconstruction of Ukraine. "Although winning the war and achieving peace in Ukraine is a priority, in some areas, such as the Zhytomyr region, hostilities have ended, which is why restoration and reconstruction work is already being planned there. It will be a long process in which all European Union countries have both the opportunity and the obligation to contribute," Sutt said in a press release.
According to the minister, it is clear that the reconstruction of Ukraine will also be an important source of exports for Estonian companies in the coming years, which is why close communication with each other and with other partner countries and international organizations that might be interested in contributing to the reconstruction of the region is very important.
Sutt pointed out that the extensive reconstruction of Ukraine will also allow the necessary reforms to be carried out in order for Ukraine to become a member of the EU. "We can contribute to building a forward-looking Ukraine with a high-quality living environment, an economy based on digital and green solutions, and the principles of the rule of law," the minister said, promising to visit Ukraine and the Zhytomyr region in the near future with a business delegation.
According to Sutt, Zhytomyr is a region quite similar to Estonia -- in terms of size, population and natural environment -- which makes it easy for Estonian entrepreneurs to apply their previous experience there.
Director of the Estonian Center for International Development (EstDev) Kadri Maasik recently visited Zhytomyr with representatives of the Estonian embassy and gave entrepreneurs an overview of the situation there. "The destruction in Ukraine is large-scale and the reconstruction process will be very long and costly. We are still in the very early stages, but yesterday's meeting also shows that the interest and will of Estonian entrepreneurs to contribute to the reconstruction of Ukraine is great," Maasik said.
The meeting was attended by representatives of more than 40 companies from the electrical, machinery, chemical, defense, construction and wood industries, the food sector, as well as the ICT sector. Entrepreneurs were most interested in how the process of rebuilding Ukraine and the support measures would be distributed across Europe and how the aid would get to where it was needed quickest.
According to Sutt, Estonia should not limit itself to the Zhytomyr region. "Estonia's strengths are our technological capability, flexibility and quick response, as well as the availability of highly competent people. For example, offering different digital solutions cannot be central to one region, but would make it possible to contribute to the reconstruction of the entire country. One of the possibilities is also consulting services and offering Estonia's know-how, which can be done virtually today, be it in the digital field or, for example, educational technology," the minister said.
The reconstruction of Ukraine is coordinated in Estonia by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Estonian Center for International Development Cooperation (EstDev). The local representation in Ukraine in the form of the Estonian embassy is also very important.
Andres Rundu will also start working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the special envoy for the reconstruction of Ukraine from August. In addition, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the joint agency of Enterprise Estonia (EAS) and Kredex, will discuss additional ways to support Estonian entrepreneurs on the ground in Ukraine.