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Speech by Ulf Kristersson

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s speech at the Donors' Conference - Together for the people in Türkiye and Syria


Opening remarks by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the International Donors’ Conference in support of the people in Türkiye and Syria on 20 March in Brussels.

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Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

42 days ago the lives of millions of people in Türkyie and Syria changed completely, in a matter of seconds.

Within a few minutes hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, their everyday routines, their sense of normalcy and belonging.

In the following days it became painfully clear that hundreds of thousands of people lost someone they loved.

Over 50 000 lives were lost.

As the European Union, and as members of the international community, we cannot take away the grief or the pain.

We cannot fill the voids from the loved ones that were lost in the earthquakes. But one thing we can do.

We can turn our words of condolences and solidarity into action. That is why we meet in Brussels today.

That is the reason for Sweden, holding the current presidency of the European Union, and the EU-commission, to arrange this meeting for the people of Türkiye and Syria.

This conference has one clear goal: to make the struggle of rebuilding everyday lives and communities easier.

We need to make sure the response from the international community is strong, efficient, and coordinated.

The challenge to rebuild cannot be exaggerated. The affected area in Türkiye and Syria equals the countries of Belgium and the Netherlands together.

Whole cities and societies need to be reconstructed. And the survivors will need help to return to a normal life.

We still do not have precise figures on all of the physical destruction but we’re talking about large sums.

The total economic impact will be devastating and long-term.

However, we know one more thing: that when the EU and the international community make a strong effort together, we can make an enormous difference.

This was clearly manifested by the large number of EU-countries – and other nations – quickly sending search and rescue teams, tents, field hospitals, generators and other support to the people affected.

From Sweden we quickly sent teams of experts and immediate relief.

I was impressed by the strong will of private individuals, NGOs and the business community to help as well.

The initial and fast response to the earthquakes must be followed by solid support for continued humanitarian relief, recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

My own country, Sweden, will today pledge 500 million Swedish kronor, equivalent to 45 million euro, to support humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Türkiye, and humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation for the people in Syria.

We will channel our funds through our longstanding partners, the UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP.

This conference provides the EU and the wider international community with an opportunity to show the affected people in Türkiye and Syria that we will stand by you as you rebuild your everyday lives.

Our job here today is to make sure the EU and wider international community provide adequate and effective support to make these challenges easier to face.

The solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria must today be transformed from words into action. That is why we invited you here today.

Thank you.