Peace requires dialogue from both sides – messages from the Peace Summit in Switzerland

The final press conference during the Peace Summit in Ukraine in Stansstadt near Lucerne, Switzerland/EPA-EFE/

Countries meeting at a historic international peace summit in Ukraine agreed that Kiev should open a dialogue with Russia to end the war, while supporting Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity.

More than two years after Russia's invasion, leaders and senior officials from more than 90 countries spent the weekend in a Swiss mountain resort for a two-day summit dedicated to resolving Europe's biggest conflict since World War II. "Le Monde". 

"We believe that achieving peace requires involvement and dialogue between all parties," said the latest communique, supported by the vast majority of countries attending the summit at the Burgenstock complex overlooking Lake Lucerne.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, (L) speaks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the Peace Summit/EPA/EFE

The document also reaffirmed the commitment to the "territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine." The declaration also calls for a full exchange of prisoners of war and the return of deported children. But not all attendees supported the document, with India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among those not included in the list of supporting states displayed on the summit's screens.

After world leaders stood together to offer their support on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed hope for an international agreement on a proposal to end the war that he could eventually present to Moscow.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni from Italy arrives at the plenary session during the Peace Summit in Ukraine/EPA/EFE

The Kremlin repeats Putin's call

Sunday's summit focused on food security, avoiding nuclear disaster and the return of deported children from Russia, as countries outlined the building blocks to ending the war. The summit, snubbed by Russia and its ally China, comes at a time when Ukraine is fighting on a battlefield where it has been outgunned.

The Swiss flag is displayed among the flags of other countries during the plenary session of the Summit/EPA/EFE

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the effective surrender of Kiev as a basis for peace talks. Putin's call for Ukraine to withdraw from the south and east of the country was widely rejected at the summit. But the Kremlin insisted on Sunday that Ukraine should "consider" Putin's demands, citing the military situation on the ground.

"The current dynamics of the situation on the front clearly show us that it continues to deteriorate for the Ukrainians," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "It is likely that a politician who puts the interests of his country above his own and the interests of his masters would consider such a proposal. Russia claimed on Sunday that its troops had captured the village of Zagrine in southern Ukraine, continuing their advance on the front line.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov/EPA/EFE

The Burgenstock talks were framed around areas of common ground between Zelenskiy's 10-point peace plan unveiled in late 2022 and UN resolutions on the war that passed with broad support. Narrow jurisdiction was an attempt to gain the broadest support by sticking firmly to the subjects covered by international law and the United Nations charter.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chilean President Gabriel Boric and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the closing press conference/EPA/EFE

The countries are divided into three working groups on Sunday looking at nuclear safety and security, humanitarian issues and food security, and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. The session on humanitarian aspects focused on issues related to prisoners of war, civilian prisoners, internees and the fate of missing persons. The repatriation of children taken from the occupied Ukrainian territory to Russia was also discussed.

Talks on food security examined the decline in agricultural production and exports, which had a ripple effect around the world as Ukraine was one of the world's breadbaskets before the war. The talks considered not only the destruction of fertile land through military operations, but also the ongoing risks of mines and unexploded ordnance. Artillery attacks on ships in the Black Sea increased the cost of shipping.

The Nuclear Safety Group reviewed the fragile situation surrounding the safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear power plants, particularly Zaporizhia, where all reactors have been shut down since mid-April. Talks were honed to reduce the risk of an accident resulting from a malfunction or attack on Ukraine's nuclear facilities.

"When a just and lasting peace comes, we will all be there to help Ukraine rebuild," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the final address to the invited leaders. "The people who lost their lives, the families destroyed, they will not be able to bring them back." that "it won't be easy".

Second summit

Attention was also turned to a potential second summit, at which Ukraine wants to present an internationally agreed peace plan to Russia. Swiss President Viola Amherd said in her closing remarks: "One key question remains: how and when can Russia be involved in the process?"

"We've heard it in many of your statements: a lasting solution must involve both sides," she said, while acknowledging that "the road ahead is long and challenging."

Zelensky has not said whether he is ready to engage directly with Putin in talks on ending the conflict, although he has ruled out direct talks with him in the past. "Russia should join this process because Russia is responsible for starting the process called war," Georgian President Salome Zurabichvili told reporters.

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