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The Nordic Council of Ministers and Belarus

The Nordic Council of Ministers supports progress towards democracy in Belarus by donating to the exile university (EHU), by providing money to a Baltic NGO funding programme and by funding cross-border regional networks.

The Nordic and Baltic countries work together to promote democracy in Belarus. The Nordic Council of Ministers funds access to higher education for students from Belarus, runs a funding programme for NGOs in the Baltic Region, supports cross-border regional networks and has helped facilitate a neutral platform for debate between politicians from the country.

The Nordic Council of Ministers also set up and ran the project Civil Society Stability for Belarus (CSSB) in the aftermath of the presidential election in the country in 2010.

As far as Belarus is concerned, the flagship Nordic activity consists of promoting access to higher education at the exile university (EHU). The Nordic Council of Ministers and the European Commission have been funding the European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius since 2005. Approximately 2,000 students from Belarus have benefited from an education in the humanities and social sciences at the EHU.

The Nordic Council of Ministers decided to establish an international fund for the EHU in June 2008 in order to co-ordinate support for the university more closely. Donors channel support to the EHU via the fund, which is run by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretariat in close partnership with the university.

Since the start of the Nordic Council of Minister’s programme for non-governmental organisations in the Baltic Sea Region in 2006, Belarusian NGOs have taken part in a number of projects with Baltic, Polish and Nordic partner organisations and received funding for capacity building and creating networks.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ programme of cross-border regional co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region also includes Belarus. Cross border co-operation takes place amongst other things, through the Baltic Euroregional Network (BEN) and tangible projects. Two Belarusian local authorities and one Belarusian NGO took part in the BEN-EAST-project, which is co-funded by the European Commission.

The Nordic Project Fund (NOPEF) has expanded its activities in recent years and now also provides support to Nordic companies wishing to establish themselves in Belarus. The Nordic Environmental Finance Co-operation has also recently decided to expand its activities to cover Belarus.


Jens Nytoft Rasmussen