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European Union – Belarus: Opportunities for Youth – a festival for those excited about the future took place in Minsk

Guests of the festival: students, young professionals, university professors, representatives of international organizations, as well as projects and initiatives implemented in Belarus with support from the European Union, diplomats – about 700 persons in total.

Opening of the festival: “In Belarus, the European Union is implementing projects on economy, public administration, environmental protection and in many other areas… it is essential that we also carry out project that build relationships between people, and our festival confirms that. We are holding such an event for the first time, and we are very happy to see so many young people here today!” – Berend de Groot, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation in Belarus address the public from the festival main stage.

Venue: OK16 Minsk cultural hub – activities were held at six sites at the same time.

Geographic coverage: 30 speakers from Belarus, Poland and the Netherlands. The festival guests were \ Ambassador of Germany in Belarus Peter Dettmar, Ambassador in Sweden in Belarus Christina Johannesson, Ambassador of Romania in Belarus Viorel Moşanu.

Exhibition space: One was of the most popular sites was the exhibition of projects and programmes financed by the European Union in Belarus. It had 15 stands including stands of the Embassies of Slovakia and Austria in Minsk, the Centre for Swedish Studies, Chevening Programme (UK), DAAD Belarus, Goethe-Institut Minsk, MOST European Programme, Inclusive Barista initiative, and others.

Activities: About 30 various presentation, meetings, master classes and other activities on education, career, personal growth and urban activism were held at the festival. Thus, the EU4Youth: Employability and Stability in Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine project presented a training programme on building life skills and employment.

Premiere: Alumni Picnic 2019 – an annual meeting of graduates from foreign universities, educational and internship programmes, aimed at experience exchange and finding new contacts, had a special place at the festival. Its key event was the premiere of a documentary by The Hidden Potential of International Alumni, a documentary by Anna Novitskaya, a graduate of the Erasmus Mundus EU Programme.

The Young European Ambassadors initiatives prepared a large interactive programme with presentations and quizzes. Anna Piscchik, an MSLU student, moderated the European Union and Eastern Partnership quiz. Last year, Anna took the Youth Resolutions in Internet Governance course held by Digital Grassroots youth initiative.

Elvira Stinissen – a Paralympic champion and a policy expert of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport – share some aspects of working in the Government with the festival participants.

Concert programme: the musical section was opened by Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Belarus and Raman Ramanoŭski, Head of the European Cooperation Department of Belarus MFA.

Addressing the festival participants, Andrea Wiktorin emphasized: “The European Union has a lot to offer to youth. It is clearly demonstrated by the number of the projects and programmes about which you have learned today. These are different countries, different opportunity, and this diversity makes us stand strong. We are prepared to offer to you an opportunity of long-term and short-term education in countries of the European Union, or study here… We oppose brain drain, we stand for circulation of ‘brains’. Based on my personal experience, I may say that living abroad, learning about another culture helps one become more confident and active.”

The festival was concluded with a simultaneous performance of two popular Belarusian bands, NaviBand and Nizkiz.

We have made several concert tours around Europe; so, it is a great honour for us to perform at the Minsk festival. Based on our own experience, we are trying to build a case that more contacts between EU and Belarus youth mean more opportunities for creative and gifted young people!” – assert NaviBand members.