EU study programme to include Belarusian students?

Poland's Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski has proposed that countries party to Brussels' Eastern Partnership should be included in the EU's Erasmus student mobility programme.

Speaking to Parliament, Tuesday, Sikorski voiced his hopes that the EU will lean towards his idea, especially after social unrest in Belarus after the elections there caused many students to be kicked out of university.

"The revolution would be based on the fact that rather than create special [academic] programmes, Eastern Partnership countries should be admitted to the EU's programmes, and to the huge sums of money the EU designates to the citizens of member states," Sikorski said, adding that "then we are talking about thousands of [financial] grants, not hundreds."

The motion to support students from Belarus was also backed in Parliament by former Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz as well as his Leftist colleague Marek Borowski.

Sikorski stated that the proposition is at the negotiation stage, and is to be raised in Brussels later this month. Poland's Foreign Minister is also to call for the waiver of Schengen visa fees for Belarusian citizens. Currently, such a visa costs 60 euro. The motion comes after Poland suspended fees for long-term national visas from 1 January.

Apart from Belarus, the Eastern Partnership includes Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, and Armenia. If the Erasmus programme is extended to include those countries, students will be eligible for funding and be able to study at over 4,000 higher education establishments throughout the EU.


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