According to our „Strategy for Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid 2016–2020“ Belarus is one of Estonian priority target countries for development cooperation together with Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Belarus has been ruled by an authoritarian regime and centralised economy since 1994. The government restricts political freedom, freedom of expression, media, public gatherings and religion of the citizens. 80% of the industry is under the state control and the local business-hostile environment hinders foreign investments.
Estonian development cooperation with Belarus began at the start of 2011, when Estonia showed its support to the Belarussian democratic forces during the violent events. Although the political situation is still complicated, it is essential for Estonia to continue cooperation with the Belarussian civil associations supporting and empowering their activities. Estonia has promoted cooperation in the areas of small businesses, ICT and education, as well as awarding scholarships to Belarussian students who are acquiring higher education in Estonian universities. In order to plan its development cooperation, Estonia is cooperating with local partners, mostly representatives of the civil society.
Covering all areas, Estonia promotes more extensive application of information and communication (ICT) technologies in the framework of development cooperation. Due to that, one of our long-term partners has been startup hub called „Garage48“, who has been organizing events in different regions of Belarus to develop the startup sector and to be helpful for creating new startups in Belarus. Estonia also supported the setup of a startup hub called Imaguru in Minsk.