Estonian PM in Berlin: Russia must pay for war damages

  • 2024-06-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas underscored at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin that international aid to Ukraine must continue not only in greater volumes but also over the long term, and called for continuous joint efforts to ensure that Russia pays for the damages caused by its aggression.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2024) in Berlin continues the annual high-level meetings aimed at bringing together political leaders, representatives from the public and private sectors, and civil society to collectively support the reconstruction and economic recovery of Ukraine. The conference is hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

In her speech, Kallas stated that the free world cannot afford to tire of helping Ukraine, as it is an existential struggle for the entire democratic society.

"If we believe in Ukraine's victory, we support the Ukrainian fight. We must support them more substantially and for the long term, so they can resist the aggressor both on the battlefield and by maintaining their country and economy," she said.

The Estonian prime minister pointed out that ultimately, a situation must be achieved where Russia is compelled to pay for the war damages it has caused.

"This is not just a moral but also a legal obligation. The Estonian Parliament recently passed a law that allows the use of frozen Russian assets for Ukraine, which will hopefully also inspire others," she said.

Estonia's efforts in rebuilding Ukraine are focused on the Zhytomyr region. Kallas noted that Estonia's experience is the best proof that reconstruction is possible even during the war and goes hand-in-hand with transitioning to European Union standards. 

"We are working with our Ukrainian partners on forward-looking solutions. For example, the construction of new foster homes is progressing alongside the modernization of the social system. Recently, the first such foster home was handed over," she said.

At the conference, the Estonian prime minister also participated in a public discussion on preparing Ukraine for EU membership and the EU's readiness for Ukraine's accession. In the discussion, Kallas noted that Ukraine's ability to continue the reforms necessary for accession during a grueling war is impressive.

On the sidelines of the conference, Kallas had bilateral meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, British Foreign Minister David Cameron, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milojko Spajic, and President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Odile Renaud-Basso, discussing support for Ukraine and European security. In the evening, Kaja Kallas engaged in a public discussion with the Montenegrin prime minister at an event organized by the German NATO Association to mark NATO's 75th anniversary and Estonia's 20th anniversary of joining NATO. She also delivered a speech at a working dinner on Ukraine organized by the multimedia company Axel Springer SE.