Vilnius, Lithuania, 30th June 2011—Government officials from the Czech Republic, including Jiří Schneider, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic, Radek Pech, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Lithuania, and Janina Hřebíčková, Director of the Human Rights and Transformation Policy Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, met with students and leaders of the European Humanities University (EHU).
Schneider and his colleagues engaged students in a conversation about their aspirations and plans as well as the challenges they face as students from a repressive country studying at a university in a free and democratic one. Students recounted cases in which Belarusian authorities have tried to intimidate them, yet said they remain committed to their studies.
The Czech delegation was particularly interested in EHU’s media programs, which provide students with an opportunity to study journalism and learn media skills in a state-of-the-art production facility called Emediahub, developed with the support of the European Union in partnership with IREX Europe and the BBC World Service Trust. To learn more about the project, please visit: Belarus: Improving Media Education.
Mention was also made of the “silent revolutions” taking place in public places in Belarus and additional ways that European countries could support democracy and civil society in Belarus. The First Deputy Foreign Minister expressed the view that attempts by Belarusian authorities to prohibit even simple quiet gatherings in public places could be seen as a sign of their weakness.
After viewing a presentation by EHU students about their activities and campus life, Schneider remarked: "I feel that EHU is a place with lots of creativity and a sense of humor, which is something authoritarian regimes fear.”
The visit ended with an excursion around EHU’s campus. The European Humanities University (EHU) is a private, non-profit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. The university has been headquartered in Vilnius since authorities expelled it from Belarus in 2004. It serves nearly 2,000 mostly Belarusian students.
Czech officials at the EHU Media Hub