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As part of its project Partners in Europe – Warsaw-Brussels-Minsk. Study visits on European integration of young opinion leaders, which is funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EPD together with its partners the Polish Institute of Public Affairs and the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies organised a study visit of a delegation of 14 young Belarusian opinion leaders to Brussels from 16 to 22 October. The Belarusian activists were eager to learn about the European decisional process, the role of the European institutions and, most of all, their country’s relations with the EU and other international organisations and the way it is perceived from the outside.

During the six days visit we organised a series of meetings with experts involved in EU-Belarus relations. Furthermore, we met with MEP assistants who explained the role of a deputy assistant and the position of the European Parliament in the EU’s institutional triangle. In order to make the Belarusians benefit as much as possible from their presence in Brussels, EPD also organised a visit to the NATO Headquarters. After a couple of briefings about NATO’s current political agenda and NATO-Belarus relations, there was a panel discussion on NATO-Russia relations in which our delegation engaged very actively. Moreover, EPD has arranged meetings with representatives of several think tanks such as the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) or the Centre for Eastern Studies and with Representatives of the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU, which currently holds the EU Presidency.

This study visit was a mutually enriching experience which created a space for discussion, exchange and learning. We saw a fruitful participation of the fourteen young opinion leaders who were able to discuss with experts about the way the Belarusian regime is perceived outside the country. The participants got a better understanding of the EU’s role in Belarus and the challenges in EU-Belarus relations. In addition, EPD received first hand information about the present domestic political situation in Belarus.

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