Belarusian economy abandons hopes for growth in 2016
According to the IMF forecast, Belarus’ GDP is expected to decline by 2.2% in 2016. The forecast for 2015 has been revised downwards – GDP is expected to shrink by 3.6% instead of 2.2% according to April forecast. The deterioration is due to the slower pace of economic recovery in the developing countries with a view to preserving the current level of oil prices. In the near future investment in fixed assets will curb, household incomes will continue to fall, competition for jobs will increase, and inflation somewhat decline due to lower consumer demand. The current account deficit of 4.3% of GDP requires a search for external funding sources to service the public debt, since Belarus does not have sufficient domestic resources to service her debt.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.