On Friday the 24th March, the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) will sign an agreement with the European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius in support of this Belarusian university in exile. This agreement worth € 2.78 million will enable 350 students from Belarus to study at the EHU for three years in various degree programs. The European Commission is the biggest donor with € 2.2 million.

The signing ceremony will take place on 24th March, at 10.00 am at the Mykolas Romeris University campus, Valakupiu 5. The agreement between NCM and EHU will be signed by Mr Per Unckel, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers and by Mr Anatoli Mikhailov, the Rector of the European Humanities University. After the signing there will be an opportunity for the media to ask questions.

Mr Unckel will also meet with President Valdas Adamkus and Minister of Education and Science Remigijus Motuzas during his one-day visit to Vilnius.

Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Per Unckel says: ”Higher education is crucial in both human and societal development as it enhances critical thinking, active citizenship and ethical values. Good and solid education of the younger generation is a cornerstone in building the future of any society. Our backing for the university represents long-term support for democracy through offering academic education based on values common for universities all over the world.”

In the signing ceremony, a message from European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy will be delivered.

After the forced closing of the EHU by the authorities in Minsk in 2004, it now operates as a recognized university in Vilnius. The joint Nordic-EU project has a budget of approximately EUR 2,78 million. The EU contribution is funded through the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. In addition to the Nordic Council of Ministers, Finland and Sweden contribute bilaterally to the project.
Support for EHU is also part of a broader Nordic commitment to Belarus. Another example is the cross-border regional project Baltic Euroregional Network, which also covers border areas in Belarus. Both projects are close partnerships between the EU and the Nordic Council of Ministers.