Economist Yaraslaw Ramanchuk, the presidential nominee of the United Civic Party (UCP), on November 12 met with students of European Humanities University in Vilnius.
As Kiryl Atamanchyk, leader of StudAlliance, an association of Belarusian students in Vilnius, told BelaPAN, the UCP deputy chairman told the audience about his election platform, shared his opinion about some issues relating to the Belarusian government’s foreign and home policies, and answered students’ questions.
According to Mr. Atamanchyk, students were curious about the economic situation in Belarus, foreign investment, Mr. Ramanchuk’s plans for boosting jobs and reforming the educational and judicial systems, and the status of Alyaksandr Lukashenka if Mr. Ramanchuk was elected president.
Mr. Ramanchuk, who heads the Ludwig von Mises think tank in Belarus, spoke for a reduction of the bureaucratic apparatus and encouraging private enterprise. The students also asked questions about the future status of European Humanities University (EHU) and job placement for the university’s graduates in Belarus.
"Ramanchuk answered that the EHU graduates would be in the front rank of the new Belarusian society, and that the knowledge and skills that the university gives would certainly be in demand in Belarus," Mr. Atamanchyk said.
Founded in Minsk in 1992, EHU was stripped of its license by order of Education Minister Alyaksandr Radzkow in July 2004 and was reestablished in Vilnius in 2005 as European Humanities University in Exile thanks to international political and financial support.
Following the closure of EHU in Minsk, Mr. Lukashenka said that the university had made its students pro-Western and had refused to follow the government`s ideology and education policies. The Belarusian leader accused the institution of failing to "train students like other schools did," and making "our Belarusian kids" victim to "adults` political games."
EHU currently provides training to more than 1000 students, with almost all of them being citizens of Belarus.
The EHU management has said that the Belarusian authorities should "guarantee academic freedom" to make it possible for the university to return to Belarus.