Belarus Watch is commited to "building bridges" between the societies of two neighboring states - Belarus and Lithuania - sharing a long history of co-existence as a one country, but now separated from each other by the EU border, Schengen visa restrictions as well as political and ideological contradictions.
To demonstrate how important it is to uphold our ties, regardless of the political misunderstandings, our organization has been organizing series of activities together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Civil Defence Fund, Human Rights House in Vilnius, StudAlliance (students of the European Humanities University), and .. . .
N.R.M. in Vilnius
It started with N.R.M., the legendary rock-band of today's Belarus. Invited by BY-Watch (then JuBIC), the guys came to Vilnius in 2006, on the eve of the Presidential elections in Belarus, amid growing public interest towards the situation in the so-called "Europe's last dictatorship". The concert of N.R.M. in Vilnius materialised into a high-profile event covered by many Lithuanian and world mass-media.
During this first concert, the Belarusian musicians were accompanied by a popular Lithuanian band Skyders, and it gave birth to a tradition of promoting cultural bridges between the two countries.
Some time later, our organization arranged a number of smaller concerts of singing poetry performed by young musicians from Lithuania and Belarus. Organized on 16th more or less each month in 2008 and 2009, they were called "Solidarity Concerts", as a part of worldwide Solidarity With Belarus Action to raise awareness on the issue of political prisoners and dissapearances in Belarus.
In November 2009, the Lithuanian-Belarusian Solidarity Festival brought nearly all the bands and singers of all the solidarity concerts to one stage. It was a nice experience to see Lithuanian girls trying to perform songs of Belarusians guys and vice versa, and it is exactly a reflection of what the festival stood for.
A joint Belarusian-Lithuanian CD was issued, collecting the best songs of each singer who supported the solidarity idea. The CD was called "169 km", indicating the distance between Vilnius and Minsk, the two capitals.
Finding common language
The language of culture is the easiest to share for different nations, especially nations like Belarus and Lithuania - their languages are so different, however, their history and culture is sooo similar.
The traditional Midsummer night celebration outside Vilnius, organized with the contribution of BY-Watch (then JuBIC) in 2008 and 2009, offered a good opportunity for Belarusians and Lithuanians to see how many folk traditions, rituals and games they have in common.
JuBIC has also helped to stage Belarusian play "Locals" (Tutejšyja) in Lithuania, together with Hrodna puppet theater and Vilnius Lėlė theater. The classical play showing the peculiarities of national identity of the "locals" gave a rare opportunity for the Belarusian community in Vilnius to find some common ground, at least because it was attended both by the embassy officials and their opponents and dissidents. Being extremely politically divided, Belarusians also need "cultural bridges" among themselves.
Show Europe - Show Belarus
In 2010-2011, BY-Watch is continuing its constructive efforts to promote the ties between the creative communities of Belarus and EU nations.
Together with our partners in Belarus, Estonia, Sweden, Germany, and Portugal, a new project called Show Europe - Show Belarus is being launched, aiming at creating a network of cultural cooperation between Belarus and EU nations.
Establishment of links between Belarusian and EU artistic circles, mainly in the field of visual arts, performance and music, is the central focus of the upcoming project. We will invite creative young people who cannot be heard in their homeland to present their arts for domestic and European public. At the same time, we expect young Belarusians to learn from the positive experience of their cross-European counterparts. We expect this interaction to contribute to promoting the European values in Belarus.