TALLINN - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the European Union, including Estonia, has been considering its further steps regarding Belarus in light of the presidential elections that took place there and the violent events that followed. “We still feel it is regrettable that the presidential elections in Belarus were followed by force being used against demonstrators as well as the opposition candidates and their followers, and also the arrest of human rights activists and journalists. These developments do not correspond to democratic values and the Belarusian authorities must promptly release all those arrested who were not connected to the violence,” he added.
Paet said that Estonia will continue to support civil society in Belarus. “We plan to increase our support for civil society in Belarus through development cooperation, utilizing the opportunities offered by the Eastern Partnership Center and continuing to support the studies of Belarusian university students,” stated the foreign minister.
“We want young Belarusians to be guaranteed experiences in an open society. Estonia offers scholarship programs for students whose studies at Belarusian universities have been cut short for political reasons to study in Estonian universities. It is also essential for contacts between Estonian and Belarusian universities to continue,” Paet stated. “We also wish to continue supporting opportunities for young Belarusians to study at the Belarusian Humanitarian University,” Paet added.
The minister said that Estonia supports more dynamic progress in the visa facilitation process going on between the European Union and Belarus. “In order to facilitate people-to-people contacts, we would like to simplify travel to Estonia for citizens of Belarus. We are preparing a waiver of the visa fee for Estonian national visas,” said Paet.
Paet stated that Estonia is weighing opportunities to offer training on the protection and management of Web sites to the technical workers in charge of the Web sites of the Belarusian opposition.