BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - Germany and Ukraine, together with 12 other countries and 17 development organizations, have launched an alliance to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises in the country attacked by Russia. "Ukraine needs a strong economy in order to survive the war and rebuild what has been destroyed," said Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) on Wednesday during an appearance with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Julia Svyrydenko at the Ukraine Reconstruction Conference in Berlin.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered the backbone of the Ukrainian economy. According to the German government, they contribute to two thirds of value creation in Ukraine and create more than 80 percent of jobs there. One of the aims of the new alliance is to provide favorable loans for such companies.

"One of the most effective levers for reconstruction is subsidized financing for small and medium-sized Ukrainian companies," said Schulze. In Germany, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau was a pioneer of the economic miracle in the 1950s and 1960s. This experience with KfW could be brought into the joint work on the reconstruction of Ukraine.

According to Schulze, the founding members of the alliance are contributing to capacity building in Ukraine through financial investments, political advice and programs. The total commitments amounted to over 7 billion euros for current and new SME programs. New programs accounted for over 4.5 billion euros of this sum.

Svyrydenko said that small and medium-sized enterprises played "a key role in the reconstruction of the country". Medium-sized companies had been hit particularly hard by the Russian invasion. She thanked them for their support in implementing the strategy for these companies, especially in accessing international markets in preparation for the EU accession process. The Minister spoke of a decisive contribution to the future of Ukraine and its current resilience.

Around 2000 representatives from politics, business and international organizations took part in the two-day reconstruction conference. It was not a donor conference to raise money, but rather a networking event for relevant players./bk/DP/ngu