Taoiseach hails Ukraine peace summit as ‘an important start’ as talks conclude in Switzerland

Russia and China stayed away from summit while countries including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and the Holy See declined to sign the concluding communiqué

Ireland's Prime minister Simon Harris speaks during a plenary session during the Summit on peace in Ukraine. Photograph: Allesandro Della Valle

Taoiseach Simon Harris has hailed as a “huge success” a Swiss gathering linking Ukraine’s path to peace to international law and the UN Charter.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed broad international solidarity for his country after two days of talks involving heads of state and government and 100 delegations in total.

“We are at war and we don’t have time for prolonged war,” said Mr Zelenskiy after the talks concluded. “Moving to peace means acting fast, preparations will take months, not years.”

Russia and China stayed away from the gathering while several attendees – including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and the Holy See – declined to sign the concluding communiqué.


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European countries seen as friendlier to Russia, including Hungary and Serbia, were among the backers of the document which says a “just and lasting peace in Ukraine” requires adherence to “the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states”.

Even without full acceptance by all attendees, Mr Harris said “getting people to the table was an important start”.

“Of course we want more people at the next table,” he said. “Of course, ultimately, Russia will need to be part of the process.”

In an open session, seated alphabetically beside Israel, Mr Harris urged attendees to “be consistent in our approach and loyalty to the global rules to which we have committed ourselves”.

“What’s happening in Gaza cannot be ignored at an international peace summit,” he added later.

The Taoiseach promised Irish involvement in further action to assist in the return of an estimated 20,000 Ukrainian children abducted since February 2022.

Swiss federal president Viola Amherd shakes hands with Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky during the closing press conference of the Summit on Peace in Ukraine on Sunday. Photograph: Urs Flueeler/AFP

The summit communiqué says peace requires “involvement of and dialogue between all parties” and promises to “undertake concrete steps in the future ... with further engagement of the representatives of all parties”.

It describes as “inadmissible” the “threat or use of nuclear weapons” in Ukraine war, states that food security “must not be weaponised” and urges the return of prisoners of war and abducted minors.

At a final press conference, Swiss federal president Viola Amherd said the broad global participation was an encouraging sign.

“For months we have talked of war and weapons deliveries,” she said, “but now we have spoken about peace for the first time at a meeting of this kind.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said attendees agreed it was “up to Ukraine to determine the conditions for a just peace” and that Russia was welcome to join peace talks based on the UN Charter.

Echoing other attendees, she described as “outrageous” a proposal by Moscow that Ukraine end the conflict by ceding territory to Russia and demilitarising.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin