The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz welcomed students from the European Humanities University (EHU) who visited Strasbourg together with EHU Rector Prof. Anatoli Mikhailov and Vice-Rector for Development and Communications Dr. Darius Udrys at the invitation of Lithuanian MEP Dr. Laima Andrikienė. At a meeting with them and EHU leaders, President Schulz expressed his support for the exiled Belarusian university, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
“Continuing the policy of my predecessors Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering and Jerzy Buzek, I support this university one hundred percent,” President Schulz told EHU students and leaders.
Thirteen students from EHU visited Strasbourg as part of a tour of European capitals, including Berlin, Paris, and Prague. The tour was organized for them and other students from Lithuania and sponsored by MEP Dr. Laima Andrikienė.
During the visit to the European Parliament, Mikhailov and Udrys also met with other MEPs to discuss European support for EHU. Dr. Laima Andrikienė arranged a press conference at the European Parliament to commemorate the 20th anniversary of EHU's founding.
Speaking about EHU's mission and the importance of education, Mikhailov noted that “without transformation of our minds until we have detached ourselves from the old ways of thinking, we cannot expect political changes in Belarus.” According to him, that is why EHU is such an important project. Its purpose is to transform students' thinking.
“EHU offers its students what is currently unavailable in Belarus–academic freedom and studies that encourage creativity and critical thinking,” added Udrys.
“No university in Belarus has been able to avoid the strong hand and ideological control of the government,” Andrikienė stated at the press conference, emphasizing the importance of providing refuge for this university in Lithuania. According to the MEP, this is a response to attempts by the authoritarian regime to indoctrinate young people and destroy academic freedom.
Andrikienė’s words were supported by the President of EHU's Student Union (student government) Hauryil Smaharzheuski, who emphasized that EHU provides him and other students with the possibility to study in freedom and that this is the best way to change Belarus.
The European Humanities University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the University has been headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania since authorities expelled it from Belarus in 2004. It serves nearly 2,000 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences.