Document Actions

Guidelines for the Nordic Council of Ministers' Belarus activities 2014

Background

The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) has, since 2006, been actively involved in supporting the Belarus exile University EHU (European Humanities University) in Vilnius along with, amongst others, the Nordie countries, European governments, the EU, the USA and private donors.

Since 2006, the NCM has also provided support through its NGO programme for the Baltic Sea Region to Belarusian NGOs involved in projects that focus on capacity-building in collaboration with partners from the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as Poland. In addition, the NCM has, along with the EU, supported a number of Belarusian students who, for political reasons, have had to continue their studies in the Ukraine and Poland. The NCM has also supported activities by other stakeholders aimed at deveroping democracy. Certain Nordie institutions, including NEFCO, have started development activities in Belarus to a Iimited extent. The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) wishes to launch activities in relation to Belarus, based on a framework agreement concluded in June 2010.

The NCM wishes to continue to contribute to progress towards democracy in Belarus. Given the current political situation in the country, it is considered that this objective can best be promoted through co-operation with, first and foremost, civic-society stakeholders and perhaps local and regional authorities.

Due to the country's geographic proximity to the Nordic and Baltic countries, progress towards democracy in Belarus is of significance for stability and development in the Region. The NCM notes the developments in Belarus' rapprochement with the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Northern Dimension.

In order to achieve synergies, particularly with the Nordie countries' bilateral input, the NCM's Belarus activities will be closely co-ordinated with the initiatives of other stakeholders. The NCM's Belarus activities must be focused on, and directed at, areas that can generate added-value in relation to Nordic bilateral input and the EU's activities.

The NCM's Belarus activities will also be closely linked to the EU 's multilateral and bilateral policy for Belarus, especially in relation to the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy, the Northern Dimension and the Eastern Partnership.

The NC has focused on promoting democracy in Belarus for several years. It has supported the NCM's efforts and conducred its own activities. Dialogue about the NCM's Belarus activities will continue with the NC.

Nature of the guidelines

The guidelines serve as a tool for the NCM and will direct its activities. They should be seen as a framework for the development of the NCM's activities in relation to Belarus.

The ministers for Nordic co-operation (MR-SAM), including the Nordie Co-operation Committee (NSK), have overall responsibility for co-ordinating joint Nordic activities in
relation to Belarus.

As co-operation is developed between different sectors and Belarusian stakeholders, the NCM's councils of ministers and committees of senior officials must ensure co-ordination with the relevant Belarusian parties. The individual ministerlal councils will also have responsibility for the tangible content of these activities. This implies that the co-operation will comply with the guidelines in principle adopted by MR-SAM, while the appropriate ministers will define the specific content.

The NCM's priorities

The overriding priority for the NCM's activities is to promote progress towards democracy in Belarus. In addition to providing direct support for building up the capacity of civic-society stakeholders, this objective can be promoted through closer contact between Nordic and Belarusian stakeholders in certain areas. As far as developing activities is concerned, it will be necessary to focus on specific themes and seek co-operation with other stakeholders.

The NCM's particular priorities are:

  • Progress towards democracy and support for the development of civic society, including education, training, young people, media, journalists, NGOs, and support for the NC's cooperation with Belarusian polltlclans. In this context, co-operation on culture can also help to increase understanding between peoples and forge contacts between citizens and organisations.
  • Cross-border regional co-operation on tangible projects involving civic society and local/reqional authorities in Belarus, with a view to creating networks and exchanging experiences across borders, particularly in collaboration with other international and bilateral stakeholders.
  • Support and contributions to the co-ordination of tangible Nordic bilateral activities on an ad hoc basis, to the extent that the Nordic countries see added-value in this.

Instruments for the NCM's activities

The instruments available for the development of activities in relation to Belarus are as follows:

  • The NCM's support for EHU, in collaboration with European governments, the EU, the USA and private donors, as well as the administration of the EHU Trust Fund
  • Co-operation with NGOs as part of the NCM's NGO programme for the Baltic Sea Region
  • Further development of cross-border regional activities, based on experiences from the Baltic Euro-Regional Network (BEN), which was established and co-ordinated by the NCM with funding by the EU/ENPI
  • Joint initiatives with the Nordic countries' bilateral programmes for Belarus
  • Co-funded initiatives in collaboration with other stakeholders, especially the Baltic countries and Poland
  • Initiatives in collaboration with the EU
  • Initiatives in collaboration with other regional and international stakeholders, including the Nordic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the European Council
  • Nordic institutions' activities, including NEFCO's work on the environment, climate and energy
  • Participation in the activities of the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS), the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC), to the extent to which Belarus participates in these partnerships.

The NCM's Secretariat will co-ordinate these activities closely with the Nordic countries' foreign ministries, and will maintain contact with the Nordic ambassadors in Belarus.

The Secretariat will co-ordinate closely with representatives from the Nordic countries in Minsk, as well as other international representations there, including the EU delegation.

In general, the development of the NCM's tangible activities will take place via the NCM's Secretariat in Copenhagen, along with the NCM's offices in the Baltic countries and NorthWest Russia. The NCM's office in Vilnius will play a key role in work related to Belarus
activities.

Financial principles

The initiatives to strengthen civic society will, as a rule, not require co-funding from Belarusian partner organisations. However, for this area and others, co-funding from partners or from other donor organisations will always be considered an advantage when assessing an initiative.

Time perspective

The time perspective for the guidelines is 2014.

Evaluation

The NCM's Belarus activities will be continuously evaluated. MR-SAM will receive a short annual status report containing an evaluation of the activities and any proposals for the development of new activities. The annual status report will form the basis for an annual discussion, in principle, in MR-SAM, about the development of the NCM's Belarus acilvities. In addition, issues regarding the NCM's Belarus activities will be put to MR-SAM as needed.

Individual initiatives and specific projects will be subject to ongoing monitoring and evaluation, which will be taken into account when developing future activities.

Profiling

The profiling of the NCM's Belarus activities will comply with the NCM's general profiling and communications strategies. The profiling of the NCM's initiatives will be expanded and coordinated with relevant partners, who should also be included in efforts to make the activities more visible. In this context, special consideration should be taken of ongoing developments in Belarus.

Guidelines for the Nordic Council of Ministers' Belarus activities 2014

Сотрудничество СМСС с Северо-Западом России с 2014 года

Contact

Jens Nytoft Rasmussen