TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Culture Piret Hartman said at the architectural policy conference of the ministers of culture of Europe, titled "Common Good -- Shared Responsibility", in Davos, Switzerland, that in addition to weapons aid, Ukraine needs support in rebuilding its country.
European culture ministers adopted a joint statement in support of Ukraine at the conference held in Davos.
The statement initiated by the Baltic states defines the principles to be followed when contributing to the reconstruction of Ukraine. The document highlights both the principles of quality and sustainability, as well as the need to use local intellectual and material resources as much as possible in the reconstruction works. It is important that the solutions offered are innovative and sustainable and involve the local community. The joint statement was signed by 29 ministers of culture and eight professional organizations.
"In addition to weapons aid, Ukraine needs support in rebuilding its country. We need to act despite the fact that the war in Ukraine is still going on. European countries need to start rebuilding Ukraine now. We need to bring hope to the people as well as a message that we are not afraid to help them even before the war ends. Ukrainians are in this environment every day and, with this, are maintaining peace in Europe. Their kindergartens, orphanages, homes, infrastructure, social and cultural fabric need immediate rebuilding and contributing to this is the least we can do," Hartman said in a speech following the adoption of the joint statement.
Estonia was one of the first countries to join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's initiative to select a specific target region for contributing to the reconstruction of Ukraine. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Zhytomyr region was chosen as the target region for reconstruction works. Ukraine is waiting for help in rebuilding 15 objects there. Discussions are currently underway on how to best include the competence of architects and other experts in the field in the planning of the reconstruction works.
"We are planning to create a think tank involving Ukrainian architects and experts in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Architects. This is a concrete example of where we can use the basic principles of high-quality space highlighted in the Davos declaration to rebuild Ukraine. It is also important to strengthen cooperation between the public and private sectors, especially where quick and outside-the-box solutions are needed -- war requires prompt action," Hartman added.
The Estonian delegation also had a meeting with Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy Anastasiia Bondar, where they discussed the priorities of reconstruction works in the field of culture. Bondar stressed that she is glad that Estonia has accepted war refugees so well, but it is also important that the people of Ukraine would like to return home. The departure of five million people has been a very big blow to the country. Through reconstruction works, it is necessary to create a high-quality living environment that takes into account the cultural and social dimension and brings people back home.
"Besides reconstruction, there are also smaller things we can help Ukraine with. There is still a lack of generators to keep cultural heritage from being destroyed. Several music schools have been damaged in bombings and their instruments have been destroyed. Ukrainians want to exhibit more of their art and cultural values in European countries in order to keep them in safer environments. I hope we can help with these things," Hartman said.