Denmark - Unanimous support for Belarusian exile university

The Nordic countries are prepared to provide an additional ?300,000 to fund the European Humanities University, the Belarusian exile university. The move will serve as a further reminder of the strength of Nordic-Baltic relations.

Belarusian exile students can look forward to continued political and financial support from the Nordic countries following the meeting of the ministers for Nordic co-operation on 18 February. The agenda for the gathering, which will be held in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, includes a visit to the European Humanities University (EHU) and talks with the ministers' Baltic counterparts.

"The Nordic Council of Ministers wishes to support initiatives that maintain the hope of establishing democracy and a normal civil society in Belarus. Support for EHU represents a long-term investment in both the future of Belarus and the future of a united Europe," says Bertel Haarder, the Danish Minister of Education, who doubles as Minister for Nordic Co-operation.

Nordic-Baltic partnerships are a key theme of the visit to the Lithuanian capital. The agenda for the meeting between the Nordic ministers and their colleagues from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania includes closer Nordic-Baltic collaboration, the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy, and Belarus (with particular focus on the EHU). The Nordic ministers will also meet the Lithuanian President.

The close working relationships between the Baltic and Nordic countries helped to inspire the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy, which was adopted during the Swedish EU Presidency in autumn 2009.

"Nordic-Baltic co-operation is at the very core of the development of a strong and competitive Baltic Sea Region - what we call the 'Top of Europe'," Haarder added. "The Danish Presidency will strive to ensure that the Nordic Council of Ministers plays its part in implementing the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy, which will benefit citizens as well as businesses."

The EHU has played a leading role in efforts to preserve intellectual freedom in Belarus since it was founded in Minsk in 1992. Closed by President Lukashenko in 2004 and forced into exile in Vilnius, the EHU is now the sole Belarusian alternative to state-controlled higher education.

The EHU is dependent on support from the international community and donors. The EU, several European governments, the US government, the Nordic Council of Ministers and private funds all provide financial support. The EHU Trust Fund is administered by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which ensures that money is donated safely and transparently.


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