Brussels, 21 March 2011
European Commission confirms strong support to the Belarusian population
Following announcement that it will increase its direct support for Belarusian civil society fourfold for the period 2011 – 2013, the Commission steps up donors’ coordination.
Commissioner Füle will participate in an informal donors’ coordination meeting on Belarus, to take place in Brussels on 21 March 2011.
The meeting is a follow-up to Warsaw’s “Solidarity with Belarus” international donors’ conference organized by Poland on 2 February 2011. Commissioner Füle has announced in Warsaw that the Commission was quadrupling its aid to Belarus civil society and would offer urgent support to victims, raising the total EU funding targeting Belarusian population to € 17.3 million for 2011-2013.
The EU-led informal donors' coordination meetings on Belarus constitute a donors’ platform that has been successfully used several times a year since 2006. It has built a valuable expertise on donors coordination and the link with the Warsaw conference should lead to a more efficient and effective support to meet the needs of Belarusian civil society.
The goal of the meeting is to stimulate discussions among donors and with representatives of the Belarusian civil society. Sharing information among donors will help them deliver their assistance more efficiently to those in need. Also, the presence of NGOs, which are allies in reforms, will help donors achieve a better understanding on how democratization should be pursued in Belarus.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle commented: “Today's meeting provided an important opportunity to further demonstrate our solidarity with the population and civil society of Belarus. It will help ensure that the international assistance provided in this difficult period, is focussed, targeted and supportive.”
Invitees include all EU member states, international organisations and other international donors, as well as Belarusian civil society representatives. The meeting of donors in Brussels takes place in parallel to discussions on Belarus at the Foreign Affairs Council of today.
This meeting is the follow-up to Warsaw’s “Solidarity with Belarus” international donors’ conference of 2 February 2011.
Commissioner Füle announced in Warsaw that the European Commission would increase its funding to Belarusian civil society from the currently available €4 million to €15.6 million during 2011-2013.
This support will target Belarusian NGOs, independent media and students who are subject to the regime’s repression. The support will be provided in three main ways: (1) increased funding under the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Non State Actors programme, (2) maintain annual one million euro funding to the European Humanities University in exile in Vilnius and (3) special assistance measure in support of Belarusian students.
In addition, € 1.7 million have been mobilized to provide urgent support to victims of the repression, raising the total EU funding targeting Belarusian population to € 17.3 million for 2011-2013.
Commissioner Füle also proposed in Warsaw that the EU organizes the follow up.
The EU led donors’ coordination meetings is an informal coordination mechanism in place since 2006 (16 meetings so far).
Invitees include all EU MS, as well as international organisations (UN, Council of Europe, EBRD, IMF, World Bank, Nordic Council of Ministers, OSCE and IOM) and other international donors (Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA). Key Belarusian NGOs have also been invited for project presentations and debates.