On the invitation of the Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels, Belgium) and the Foundation for Legal Technologies Development (Ukraine), a group of Belarusian experts on energy visited Brussels on March 29 – April 2, 2009. The Belarusian delegation, which included representatives from government institutions, civil initiatives, entrepreneur groups and media took part in a training course, entitled “EU Energy Policy: Sharing Knowledge with Belarus”
In the framework of the course, Belarusian delegates had a chance to get acquainted with the work of the EU institutions and meet with the key experts from the Council of the European Union and the Commission working on the region and the energy policy. European experts stressed that energy is one of the crucial areas for the EU-Belarus cooperation and Belarus is recognized as an important energy partner of the EU. They explained that main topics include the security of gas and oil transit through Belarus, nuclear safety and development of renewable sources of energy. The Belarusian delegates also learned how the EU deals with energy issues and how some of this experience, especially that of the new member states, could be possibly applied in Belarus. This mostly concerns the use of European expertise, norms and standards for construction of the nuclear plant in Belarus and in the promotion of alternative sources of energy and energy efficiency.
Belarusian experts encouraged the European Commission to carry out more projects with Belarus stressing the need for EU assistance and expertise in their country. Their counterparts, for their part, stressed that the recent positive developments in the political situation in Belarus may pave the way for the intensification of the EU-Belarus cooperation in all areas, including energy. European experts expressed their hope that Belarus will take an active part in the Eastern Partnership initiative, which has a special platform for cooperation in energy matters.
The visit is part of a larger programme for Belarusian experts, which is being implemented by the Office for a Democratic Belarus in cooperation with the Foundation for Legal Technologies Development and supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Topics for next seminars in Brussels include transport, transit and education. Candidates for participation in the progamme are selected through an open call for applications. The organisers welcome participation of experts from both civil society groups and government-affiliated structures.