Belarus ranks 52nd (2016) in UNDP’s Human Development Index, which each year monitors the social and economic development across the world. The country continues its heavy political, economic and military dependence on Russia, and its economy is largely reliant on Russian supplies of raw materials. Poland very much appreciates good relations with a prosperous Belarus and its people, and stands ready to share its experience of political transition. The growing interest in the situation in Belarus has led to its inclusion in the Eastern Partnership countries, with a view to strengthening bilateral cooperation between the European Union and Minsk. Since 2006, Belarus has been on the list of beneficiary countries of Poland’s official development assistance.
Actions in 2016
Polish development cooperation with Belarus in 2016 was based on the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme for 2016-2020 and the Plan of Development Cooperation in 2016. The measures focused on three thematic priorities: Social Capital, Good Governance, and Entrepreneurship and the Private Sector. In addition, the Democracy and Human Rights priority saw the continuation of assistance measures.
Projects carried out under the Social Capital priority improved access to social services and social inclusion of people with disabilities, children without parental care, and people with infectious diseases. Belarusian beneficiaries took part in courses, workshops and study visits run by Polish experts. Selected facilities in Belarus received equipment and were adapted to working with people with disabilities. The beneficiaries of the inclusive education project were representatives of the Institute of Inclusive Education, established in 2016 at the Baranovichi State University. In 2016, Belarus ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This event should lend impetus to development projects for people with disabilities in the years to come.
Entrepreneurship and private sector support was an important area of development cooperation offered to Belarus. The Belarusian economy is predominantly state-owned, with the role of the private sector, particularly micro and small enterprises, still limited. Polish Aid projects in 2016 were delivered to several hundred Belarusian entrepreneurs and people interested in starting up a business. The wide offering of courses, study visits, and advisory services was complemented with investment support for selected Belarusian microenterprises to purchase plant and equipment. These measures have helped to enhance contacts between Belarusian and Polish entrepreneurs as well as bringing tangible effects: contracts and new jobs. Activities in the area of entrepreneurship and private sector support matched the development needs as set out in the National Strategy of the Republic of Belarus for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development for the Period until 2030.
Actions in 2015
In 2015, Poland’s development cooperation with Belarus was implemented on the basis of the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2012-2015, and the Development Cooperation Plan for 2015, under two priorities: support for independent media, organizations and civil society, and youth and education cooperation; and support for disadvantage groups. In 2015, Polish aid funded media projects that work to make objective information more available to Belarusian society. Some of the media outlets in question were Belsat TV, Belarusian Radio Racyja, and Euroradio. In addition, some tasks under priority 1 were carried out by Solidarity Fund PL. The costs of scholarship assistance for undergraduates, postgraduates and trainees studying in Poland made up a significant part of Poland’s development cooperation with Belarus. Scholarships available to Belarusian citizens included programmes co-funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, notably the Stefan Banach Scholarship Programme.
Projects to support disadvantaged groups featured prominently among the development measures addressed to Belarus in 2015. The schemes that have been put in place were concerned with vocational and social empowerment of disabled people, enhancing the competences of community organizations that fight the spread of infectious diseases, and enhancing the competences of community organizations that work with children and young people deprived of parental care.
Actions in 2014
In the case of Belarus, Polish development cooperation in 2014 concentrated on the support of media initiatives for the increase of the access of the Belarusian civil society to independent information, in cooperation with, among others, TV Belsat, Radio Racja and Euroradio. In 2014 the new version of internet site www.belsat.eu was presented, available in Belarusian and Russian. Furthermore, the significant increase of interest in materials published by Belsat TV in the social media was noted, especially on its youtube channel. In 2014 the new internet site of the Radio Racja www.racyja.com was presented. The journalists and independent media in Belarus were supported through the Solidarity Fund PL. That support included trainings, apprenticeships, study tours and technical support. An important element of the Polish aid for Belarus constituted scholarship programmes addressed to Belarusian students and PhD students, studying at Polish universities.
One of the priorities of assistance for Belarus in 2014 was the support for the socially disadvantaged groups. The aim of these initiatives was to improve the situation of the disabled by raising the standards of care, putting the emphasis on self-reliance and professional activation, changing prejudiced opinions and negative stereotypes about the disabled. The projects concerned the prevention of infectious diseases, mainly the epidemics of HIV and AIDS. Objectiveas of those actions included informing the beneficiaries about Polish experiences and good practices, consolidation of the circles of Belarusian experts specialising in infectious diseases and drawing attention to the rights of patients, notably the right to the privacy of information. Some of the projects concerned the quality improvement of care for children deprived of parental care and threatened with social exclusion.
Actions in 2013
Polish Aid to Belarus in 2013 is directed at supporting media initiatives aimed at increasing the access to independent information. Coproduction agreements were signed with TV Belsat, Radio Racja and Euroradia with financing guarantees. Due to the aid granted for increased access to higher education, Belarusian students and doctoral students will be able to continue their education at Polish universities. The European Humanities University in Vilnius, attended by Belarusian students, was also granted financial support. A substantial part of aid projects for Belarus are carried out by non-governmental organisations and within the Small Grants System. Non-governmental organisations are carrying out projects with donation financing, ia. the competition “Polish Development Aid 2013”, and through the International Solidarity Foundation.
In 2013 Polish development cooperation activities for Belarus are carried out according to the following priorities:
- Support for independent media, civil society organisations and youth cooperation
- Support for socially disadvantaged groups
in particular employment and social activation of people from socially disadvantaged groups, competence increase of social organisations, among them those working on counteracting the spreading of infectious diseases.
Actions in 2012
Ten projects worth PLN 3,019,851 PLN were implemented by NGOs as part of the “2012 Polish Development Assistance” call for proposals.
In 2012, Polish development assistance to Belarus focused on the following priorities:
- support for independent media, organisations and civil society (6 projects - PLN 1,941,236),
in particular: wider access for Belarus citizens to reliable and objective information thanks to the development of independent media, especially electronic; strengthening trade unions, professional and social activation of young people, strengthening Belarus non-governmental organisations in matters relating to economy, education, legal experts’ opinions and advocacy.
- Support for socially excluded groups (4 projects - PLN 1,037,524),
in particular: professional and social activation of the disabled and supporting entities that work for them; raising the standards of care for people with HIV/AIDS.
Support for independent information in the production and broadcasting of programmes addressed to the Belarus society under co-production agreements with Belsat TV, Belarus Radio Racyja and Euroradio amounted to PLN 21,966,942.
Belarus students, among them, scholarship holders of K. Kalinowski Scholarship Programme and students of the European Humanities University in Vilnius were beneficiaries of development assistance in 2012.
In addition, the Polish MFA continued to provide assistance through foreign service missions and under the 3rd edition of the Polish-Danish Project addressed to Belarusian journalists.
In April 2012, the European Dialogue for Modernisation of Belarus was initiated. Some activities implemented during the inauguration of the Dialogue in Warsaw were financed with Polish development funds.
In addition, with the Solidarity Foundation PL acting as an intermediary, 27 aid projects for democratisation and support of societies undergoing systemic transformation received financial assistance amounting to PLN 2,688,255.
Read more about Polish assistance to Belarus:
- Belsat TV: the first Belarusian live TV station
- Belarus Radio Racyja: 1.5 million listeners on FM wevelength
- Euroradio: the most popular foreign radio station in Belarus
- Polish-Danish cooperaton for Belarusian journalists
Actions in 2011
43 projects targeted at Belarus have been co-financed in the framework of MFA competitions “Development Aid 2011” and “Support for Belarusian Society 2011”. In the framework of co-production agreements, support has gone towards media initiatives: TV Belsat, Belarusian Radio “Racja” and Euroradio. The aid beneficiaries consisted of Belarusian students, e.g. fellows of the K. Kalinowski Scholarship Programme and students of the European Humanities University in Vilnius. The Polish MFA continued to provide aid via its embassies, as well as in the framework of the 2nd edition of the Polish-Danish project addressed to Belarusian journalists.
Assistance funds towards Belarus, initially planned in 2011, have been doubled; they now amount to PLN 42 million. The implemented projects were in line with the areas of support for Belarus, as outlined in the Polish development aid programme and the rules of the “Support for Belarusian Society 2011” competition. The projects include: support for Belarusian organizations and grassroots social initiatives, encouraging educational initiatives aimed at promoting civic education, bolstering pro-European attitudes among youth and young professionals, legal and social aid for repressed individuals, assistance for already existing independent media active in Belarus, support for SMEs, streamlining border movements, rural and agricultural development, enhancing public infrastructure, preventing and combating corruption, managing public finances.
Actions in 2010
Projects carried out in 2010 match the main areas of support covered by the Polish foreign aid programme for the Republic of Belarus and include media initiatives, the promotion of democracy, good governance and stability (especially in the economy), civil society building and support for welfare programmes.
2010 saw the implementation of 17 development projects in the Republic of Belarus that were implemented by non-governmental organisations, government administration, local government entities and R&D institutes. In addition, the MFA of the Republic of Poland (Department of Implementation of Development Programmes and Polish Embassies in Copenhagen and Minsk) together with the Danish MFA and the Danida Fellowship Centre carried out a project called "Enhancing the Competencies of Belarusian Journalists Through Training and Information Activities in Poland and Denmark." The project provided merit-based support to Belarusian journalists, including in the fields of as media cooperation with European Union Member States. The project's budget amounted to over PLN 130 000.
In 2010, over PLN 22.5 million was allocated to aid programmes in Belarus.
Actions in 2009
In 2009, aid was channelled into four main areas:
access to objective information;
civil society building (in particular, supporting independent non-governmental organisations, small business associations);
development of local self-government and transborder cooperation;
supporting good governance initiatives.
In 2009, 40 projects were implemented with partial financing of over PLN 3.3 million. This amount does not include funding for MFA three radio and television co-production projects: Belsat TV - approx. PLN 20.7 million, Radio Racja Belarus - approx. PLN 2.9 million and the European Radio for Belarus - approx. PLN 398 000.
More information on all 2009 projects can be found in the Annual Report on "Poland's Development Co-operation Programme" (see Documents and Publications).
Actions in 2008
In 2008, Poland provided aid in the following areas:
access to independent information (support for electronic media, local press and Websites providing information content, and traineeships and trainings for journalists);
development of civil society (in particular support for independent NGOs, small business associations and youth exchanges);
development of local government (traineeships and specialist training, transborder cooperation);
support for independent culture and the Belarusian language;
In 2008, 35 projects were implemented with partial financing of over PLN 5.9 million. This amount does not include funding for two MFA radio and television co-production projects: Belsat TV - PLN 19 million andRadio Racja Belarus - PLN 906 000.
More information on all 2008 projects can be found in the Annual Report on "Poland's Development Co-operation Programme" (see Documents and Publications).