“The President of the European Parliament recently expressed his commitment to continue support for the European Humanities University (EHU). There could be no higher reassurance. Objective and unbiased education is very important and people in Brussels are very supportive of this project,” says David O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS implements the European Union’s common foreign and security policy.
O’Sullivan met with University leaders and students during his visit to EHU’s campus to discuss the situation in Belarus, the importance of education and academic freedom, and the concerns and experiences of EHU students.
According to O’Sullivan, Belarus is currently “a battleground of ideas” pitting a vision of an authoritarian society against that of an open one where human rights are respected. The path Belarus takes will have repercussions throughout the whole region.
“This university is very important for what country you are going to build,” O’Sullivan noted.
Students observed that being outside Belarus helps them understand what is happening inside Belarus better. Experience abroad gives them reference points for critically evaluating the situation in their own country.
“EHU is a great university for Belarusians. We think about Belarus more being here than inside of the country,” said Mariya Stepanova, a media and communications student.
President of EHU’s Student Union Hauryil Smaharzheuski added that he shares information with his friends about what is happening in Europe whenever he goes back to Belarus: “That’s how I try to bring Europe to Belarus.”
Marta Ladutko, Vice-President of EHU’s Student Union, added that EHU has provided her with a great platform for future personal development. According to her, Belarus would benefit most if more young people were exposed to a different kind of reality than what they see in their country.
“EHU is an open window for the young people of Belarus. Students at universities in Belarus have no understanding of the processes taking place in Europe,” she said.
Students also said that lower visa fees would allow more ordinary Belarusians, particularly young people, to travel to Europe and experience different ways of life.