The Organization of Central European Initiative was founded in 1989 to develop stable ties between countries of Central, West and East Europe in the spheres of politics, economy and culture and also to prevent new dividing lines in European region. In the late 1990s the major target of the organization was defined as facilitation of European integration and closer relations between EU and non-EU European countries.
Today the organization consists of 18 member states: Austria, Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, Montenegro, and Czech Republic.
The Republic of Belarus became the member of CEI in June, 1996. The Belarusian diplomats consider membership in the organization as a way to broaden contacts with European countries, establish strong, steady ties and also receive CEI support in finding solution to problems related to migration, organized crime, visa and customs issues. Belarusian diplomats mostly devote their attention to such issues as broadening of commercial and economic contacts between CEI countries, cooperation to mitigate Chernobyl disaster consequences.
Belarusian administration and organizations promote projects and initiatives within CEI and also participate in a number of regional projects and programs of the Initiative. Today our country is one of CEI leaders due to its active participation in projects in such spheres as economic development, investment promotion, R&D, cross-border cooperation, postgraduate education and culture.
Belarus and CEI successfully co-operate in education and science. Since January 2004 the Belarusian State University has been a participant of CEI University Network, founded on the base of the University of Trieste. According to the agreement signed in 2006 the Centre for Cooperation with the CEI was established on the base of Institute of Physics, Belarusian National Academy of Sciences. It maintains ties with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics Abdus Salam in Trieste within the CEI Science and Technology Network. The organization develops scholarship programs and research projects, conducts international workshops, what in general is beneficial for Belarusian science.
As the country that suffered greatly from the Chernobyl disaster, Belarus is concerned about energy issues. Belarus advocates the creation of a CEI Special Fund for Financial Support to train nuclear power experts.
Belarusian MPs actively participate in the work of the CEI Parliamentary Assembly. In 2009 Belarus and CEI cooperation resulted in the involvement of Belarus in the CEI Eastern Partnership Program. The CEI supports enhanced dialogue between Minsk and Brussels. In the final documents, adopted at the CEI summit in 2009, such dialogue was positively assessed, focus was given to ensuring simpler travel for Belarusian citizens to the CEI countries which are EU members.
CEI membership facilitates the circulation of information about Belarus possibilities and needs among European countries, allows to receive financial and economic assistance by way of some cooperation projects, gradual harmonization of national and technical standards in line with EU criteria.