Today at a speech made in an international Donor's Conference on Belarus held in Warsaw, European Commissioner Stefan Fule announced that the European Commission intends to increase its funds and support for civil society fourfold, up to ? 15,6 Million.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule commented "As a clear demonstration of our unequivocal support to civil society in these difficult times, we will increase our funding from the currently available ?4 million to ?15.6 million. With these measures, we are seeking to avoid isolating the Belarusian population. I believe we have an important responsibility in this regard."
Following the events which took place after the Presidential elections of 19 December 2010 in Belarus, High Representative/Vice President Cathy Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy Stefan Fule clearly deplored the violence, demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees and called for an end to the ongoing persecution of civil society. As the situation on the ground did not improve, the European Union was left with no alternative but to apply sanctions.
However, the European Commission has also decided to reinforce relations and intensify support to the people of Belarus. As announced by Commissioner Stefan Fule in a speech at an international Donor's conference on Belarus held in Warsaw today, the European Commission will quadruple its aid to Belarus. From ?4 Million, this aid will now reach ?15,6 Million. It will target primarily Belarusian NGOs, independent media and students who are subject to the regime's repression. It will reach the affected population and the civil society already late February, early March.
The first step is to develop measures designed to provide urgent support to the victims of repression and to increase assistance to civil society. The indicative budget for this activity - financed through the Instrument for Stability - is ?1.7 million. The European Commission will also make financial support available for Belarusian NGOs and independent media outlets doing awareness and advocacy campaigns.
As regards medium-term support (period 2011 - 2013) and in light of recent events, the Commission intends to increase its funds and support for civil society fourfold to ?15,6M.
The European Commission will increase our funding from the currently available ?4 million to ?15.6 million. Our support will target Belarusian NGOs, independent media and students who are subject to the regime's repression. We will provide support in three main ways:
First, the European Commission will provide increased funding under the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Non State Actors programme.
Second, the European Commission will maintain our annual one million euro funding to the European Humanities University in exile in Vilnius for the young generation in Belarus to pursue high quality, free education.
Third, the European Commission will provide scholarships and promote student mobility and exchanges between education institutions from Belarus and the EU more generally.
- Speech by Commissioner Fule at the Donor's Conference: