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Address of Czech Ambassador Jan Sechter on the occasion of the 7 th International Donors Council Meeting of the European Radio of Belarus

On December 2, 2009 7 th International Donors Council Meeting of the European Radio of Belarus (ERB) took place in Warsaw in the premises of the Czech Centre. The meeting focused on current political and legal background of ERB activities, its plans for development of content and self-promotion as well as task for 2010 as a pre-election year in Belarus . The meeting was followed by informal cocktail hosted by Czech Ambassador Jan Sechter and the Czech Centre in Warsaw.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Welcome to this cocktail reception held by the Czech Embassy in the premises of our Czech Centre. I am delighted to meet you – the friends and donors of the European Radio of Belarus. The Czech Republic now hosts the International Donors‘ Council Meeting for the second time. The first one took place right after the ERB started its activities, as the Czech Republic supported the ERB from the very beginning. I find it very symbolic that we meet shortly after the Belarusian Authorities certificated the accreditation of the ERB correspondent bureau in Belarus even though only for one year. Congratulations! We consider it a first success on a long way, a very important step towards the legalization of ERB activities on Belarusian territory. Anyway, there is still much to do. I can promise that we are not going to suspend our efforts and support to the European Radio of Belarus.

It has been proved that it is necessary to stand thoroughly by the principles and values, which we have experienced twenty years ago. At the same time we have to work on all the liberalization elements of the Eastern Partnership Project. Most importnatly, we have to work on the liberalization of the EU visa regime – because broadcasting is only a one-way track and we need to be getting constant feedback in the EU. What I mean is to say is that not closing up to the citizens of Belarus is a different issue, and maybe the most important one. I myself once – back in 1990 – stood in the line for visa to Benelux, so I know the feeling well: of standing in line, waiting for allowance. I got the visa and left. When I came back after three months, I didn’t need the visa to cross the border anymore. I am well aware that the atmosphere of that period was unbelievable and exceptional, but still, even nowadays we can do a lot for Eastern Partneship by broadcasting European Radio of Belarus.

I would like to thank you for coming and for supporting the activity of the ERB. I hope the donor’s meeting that just ended has provided a unique opportunity to review ERB’sactivities as well as to plan future cooperation. I think we can now begin to enjoy this small reception, continue the discussion and exchange views in more detail.

Thank you.