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Swedish Foreign Ministry: Belarus, Sweden should develop environmental cooperation

MINSK, 27 March (BelTA) – Belarus and Sweden should be more active in developing environmental cooperation, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden said at the ceremony of signing grant agreements at the Housing and Utilities Ministry of Belarus with the participation of representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), and the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), BelTA has learnt.

Gratuitous international technical aid of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), a grant of the Government of Finland to the total tune of more than €21 million will be used to implement the project “Belarus: Environmental Infrastructure Project – First Stage” that envisages reconstruction of water and wastewater treatment facilities in Vitebsk, Brest, Grodno and installation of biogas equipment at the facilities of Baranovichi and Slonim. “We see great headway in launching the implementation of these projects. Sweden takes an active part in environmental programs. I believe that cooperation between our countries should not be limited to the programs of the Eastern Partnership and the Baltic Sea Region only,” the Swedish official said.

In his words, Sweden is investing in the implementation of all five projects on the territory of Belarus in the form of grants. The total amount of financial assistance of this country is estimated at €14 million. “This support shows that Sweden attaches great attention to the implementation of these projects. The move will benefit both the Baltic Sea Region and the Belarusian people,” the Swedish official noted, adding that Sweden counts on further cooperation with Belarus.

Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Ambassador Maira Mora also believes that the signing of grant agreements symbolizes the aspiration and readiness of the parties to implement such projects. “The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership is the most important instrument for the Baltic Sea protection and preservation. This is our common sea, including Belarus. Belarus joined the NDEP in 2009 contributing €1 million to its fund. Today we are reaping the first fruits of this participation,” she said.

Head of the Office of the Embassy of Finland in Belarus Ilkka Rasanen noted in his turn that being one of the founders and ardent supporters Finland vigorously advocates all the initiatives of the environmental partnership. “As part of our cooperation Finland has allocated €800,000 for technical aid through NIB. We want Belarus to become a real super power in water resources and use its potential to the full in order to improve the environment of the Baltic Sea and the whole region,” the diplomat stressed.