Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

emerging europe belarus outlook ebrd

Read the Outlook on Belarus special report

EU-Belarus relations
Fact box

The EU is the second largest trade partner of Belarus with 26.2% share in the country’s overall trade.

EU-funded assistance and cooperation with Belarus involves approximately €30 million on projects annually.

The bilateral allocations funded under the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI) aim to support cooperation in sectors of mutual interest and those benefitting most directly the citizens, such as border management, regional development, environment, energy efficiency, green economy and food safety, putting emphasis on civil society participation and at the same time maintaining technical level contacts with the local administration.

Since 2009, Belarus can participate in international partnership projects of intraEU programmes such as Comenius, Erasmus, Grundtvig, Leonardo, Jean Monnet and Transversal Programme. To further enhance people-to-people contacts between the EU and Belarusian society programmes such as the “EU Language Courses for Young Belarusians” and “Mobility Scheme for Targeted People-to-People Contacts” were introduced by the EC.

Negotiations on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements between the two partners were launched in January 2014. In the meantime, EU member states unilaterally continue to make optimal use of the existing flexibilities offered by the Visa Code, in particular the possibilities to waive and reduce visa fees for certain categories of Belarusian citizens or in individual cases. As a result, Belarus is currently one of the world leaders in the per capita number of Schengen visas issued to its citizens.

source: EU Commission

Andrea Wiktorin

About Andrea Wiktorin

Andrea Wiktorin is Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus. She is a German diplomat with the rank of ambassador. She assumed her current post in September, 2015. Her earlier overseas postings were as Germany's Ambassador to Latvia (2012-2015) and Germany's Ambassador to Armenia (2007-2009). She also held posts at the German Federal Foreign Office. Ms Wiktorin served as the Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy in Belarus between 2000 and 2003. She joined the German Federal Foreign Office in 1989. Twitter: @awiktorin

In February 2016, the Council of the European Union decided not to extend most of the restrictive measures in regard to Belarus, as they recognised that there was an opportunity for EU-Belarus relations to develop on a more positive agenda and that progress in a variety of fields could be achieved through enhanced channels of communication. The Council also reiterated its firm commitment to strengthening the EU’s engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society and it emphasised that it attaches great importance to enhanced person-to-person contact with Belarus. 

For centuries Europe has been rich in exchange and travel. Already as long ago as the Middle Ages, students travelled from one to the other university across the continent, cathedral builders and apprentices also worked on various sites and disseminated their knowledge and shared experiences.

Exchanging ideas, understanding neighbours and gathering and disseminating knowledge and know-how is also a reality in today’s Europe. In 2014, the EU student mobility programme, Erasmus+, enabled around 500,000 young people to study, train and volunteer or participate in youth-exchanges abroad. It also gave the same opportunity to around 150,000 staff members from educational institutions and youth organisations, in order to assist them to improve their competencies by teaching and training in another country than their own.

I am fortunate enough to have worked with Belarus on several occasions. On each occasion I have always witnessed a genuine eagerness to learn among Belarusian professionals and to share their activities and experiences.

Therefore I was pleased to launch, what I consider to be, a unique mobility programme called MOST. It is unprecedented for Belarus and the Eastern Partnership countries in terms of budget, €5 million, but above all it is its objectives that are remarkable: MOST will enable 1,500 Belarusian professionals to travel to the EU and to mix with their EU counterparts to improve their professional skills jointly.

Since January 2016, when the programme effectively started to work, almost 250 people were sent to 16 EU member states to study and work. Science and technology are major sectors, but culture, youth and education as well as health are also covered.

The interesting part of the programme, in my view, is that it gives a good idea of the sectors where the need for exchange and the prospects for cooperation are highest. I often mention MOST’s first mobility action, especially when recounting my point of view: Four Belarusian internet technologies’ experts took part in a major European conference in Lisbon on the issue of the harmonisation of digital markets. The participants managed to establish contacts with more than 40 individuals and organisations from EU countries and agreed on a couple of common research and development projects.

The time of cathedral building is behind us, but the first results of MOST seem to demonstrate that it will bring concrete benefits to Belarus, for instance in research and business partnerships or in the creativity sector. In health, education or social issues it will also be an opportunity for Belarusian professionals to discuss with their colleagues in the EU and, if suitable, adopt new work practices.

MOST has the full support of the Belarusian authorities, which I see as one more sign of the readiness of the country to increase its ties with the EU.

MOST is one additional bridge, even modest, to link the EU and Belarus and it is my wish for the future that Belarusian professionals will keep crossing that bridge to share know-how and experience and bring the best the EU can offer back with them.


The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.


The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Will European Business and Institutions Bolster the New Trends That Have Appeared in Belarus?

EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

Belarusian Tech Companies Lead a Global Technological Advance in Outsourcing and Product Development

Minsk International Airport Widens its International Reach


Belarus and the EBRD:
Working to Expand the Country’s Strengths and Success

The Great Stone Industrial Park — Making Doing Business Easy in Minsk

Rolling Sales Procedures Together so Everyone Succeeds


The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

UK Shores: the New Frontier, a View on a Series of Fortunate Events

OECD: Belarus Has to Find Its Own Belarusian Model to Emerge

The UK and Belarus: A Partnership to Introduce the Real Belarus to Europe

Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

A New Modern Mall Hopes to Draw Belarusians Back to the Home Market

RRY Capital

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

The Eurasian Economic Union Fails to Bring Belarus Closer to Big Brother

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

Belarus: Changing Old Ideas And Mixing With the New in Belarus’ Export Market

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

Long-time Neighbours Need to Share Awareness, Plus Trade & Investment

From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

Bringing Belarus’ Cultural Past to Life for Belarusians and the World

The Belarusian Financial Sector: An Industry in the Process of Restructuring

Belarus Has To Make an Extra Effort To Change Investors’ Perceptions

The Shopping Experience Is Set To Go Global in Belarus from 2017 Onwards

Germany Is Not Letting Belarus’ Small Downturns Put it off Looking for Investment Opportunities

While the EU Makes Plans for CEE China Makes Investments

Nuclear Security Summit In Washington, 2016

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

Using Words to Paint a Picture – Belarus’ Nobel Prize Winning Novelist

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

Belarus’ Economy Is Slowly Recovering From Past Declines

The EU’s Benign Neglect of Eastern Europe

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Business Mentors Helping to Solve Business Development Problems First

Portrait of confident business people interacting in the office

“e-Belarus”: Embracing the Internet and its Possibilities

The Proof of a Country’s Readiness to Attract Foreign Investors Lies in the Development of the Insurance Market

Emerging Europe and the EBRD host the Outlook on Belarus conference in London

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Or My Personal Experience of Doing Business in Belarus

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

Belarus Serves up Some Recipes for Success

Business in Belarus Recipe Book

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

IMF Believes State-Owned Enterprises Must Be Reformed

Image of the banknotes of new Belarusian banknotes five rubles put into circulation July 1 2016

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

Falling Student Numbers and Declining R&D Result From Lack of Funds

Office Space Vacancy is Currently Low but Building Standards Cause Concern

Minsk Belarus - March 23 2017 modern architecture business center Pokrovsky on Pobediteley Avenue editorial

Feel the Vibe of the City of Minsk

Trinity suburb in Minsk (Nemiga) Belarus on 20 May 2017

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

The Country Shows Promise but Needs Some Reforms

A Strategic Asset for Regional Growth and Development in the EU

Pier bridge crane and cargo handling cargo trains transported away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *