In 2009, Belarus extended an offer of rail transit to nations participating in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Completed in 2010, the agreement allows for the shipment of non-lethal cargo by rail through Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Another important aspect of security cooperation is Belarus’ participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP). This is aimed at encouraging transparency and at assisting the country in developing capabilities and interoperability for international peace-support operations. NATO helps set planning targets that will enable Belarus to develop some of its forces and capabilities for potential participation in PfP activities, including NATO-led PfP operations, and in this way contribute to security and stability.
A good example of the tangible benefits of practical cooperation is a PfP Trust Fund project, aimed at helping Belarus meet its obligations under the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction. Completed in January 2007, this joint project, led by Canada and co-funded by Lithuania and Belarus, involved the destruction of some 700,000 anti-personnel mines in Belarus.
Science and environment
NATO and Belarus also cooperate on security-related science. Scientists from Belarus have taken leading roles in 125 activities, including collaborating with experts from the Czech Republic on exploring safer methods to destroy stockpiles of persistent organic pesticides and holding an advanced study institute course in May 2010 on advanced training of architects of secure networks.
Since 2001, Belarus has received grant awards for about 40 cooperative activities under NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme. Areas include telecommunications, Chernobyl-related risk assessment studies and explosive material detection systems. An ongoing project has brought together scientists from Belarus, Norway and Ukraine to assess the hazards posed by radioactive contamination in the Polessie State Radiation-Ecological Reserve.
In addition, over 75 science fellowships have been awarded to Belarusian scientists to study in NATO countries since 1993.
NATO also seeks to contribute to the development of Belarusian civil society. This takes place primarily through public diplomacy activities. Belarusian non-governmental and civil society organisations are encouraged to engage with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Belarus is the embassy of Estonia.