The Government’s strategy for Belarus

The Norwegian Government is stepping up its efforts to promote democratic development and respect for human rights in Belarus and is now launching a comprehensive strategy for this endeavour.

The Norwegian Government is stepping up its efforts to promote democratic development and respect for human rights in Belarus and is now launching a comprehensive strategy for this endeavour. A general outline of the strategy was presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in an address to the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) on 12 June 2007.

The Government will continue to limit bilateral cooperation between Norway and Belarus, and will make it clear to the Belarusian authorities that any further development of this cooperation is contingent on the implementation of concrete measures to strengthen the democratic rights of people in the country. Norway will also maintain travel and visa restrictions in line with those adopted by the EU.

At the same time, the Government will increase its support to the political opposition and democratic forces in Belarusian civil society. The focus will particularly be on young people, for example by increasing support for youth work and education of young Belarusians abroad.

The Government attaches great importance to intensifying Norway’s cooperation and dialogue with other countries in forums such as the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe on developing a common approach to Belarus and on coordinating efforts in order to increase their impact. At the same time, the Government will actively seek to put the situation in Belarus higher on the agendas of these international organisations.

In addition, the Government will support the efforts of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority’s cooperation with local authorities and civil society actors to assist the local population in most heavily polluted areas following the Chernobyl disaster.Furthermore, the Government will promote economic reform, for example by supporting the establishment of a microfinance bank under the auspices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to assist small and medium-sized enterprises.

In connection with its efforts to promote democratic development in Belarus, the Government has increased the funds allocated for project cooperation with the country from NOK 4 million in 2006 to NOK 9 million in 2007. A further increase is envisaged for 2008.

Read Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre’s address to the Storting on 12 June 2007 here.

A translation of the whole strategy can be found here (PDF version).