Belarus to allocate budget funds to solve gas payments issue
JSC Gazpromtransgaz Belarus has filed a lawsuit in the International Arbitration Court at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce against the Belarusian gas suppliers. Since early 2016, arrears for fuel and energy supplies to enterprises has increased by 2.2 times and reached BYR 1.6 trillion. The debt has accumulated due to late payments by the key economic sectors, industry and agriculture. The state is set to allocate budgetary funds to repay current and overdue payments for energy. Chronic debtors will receive payment schedules and penalties will not be applied. Energy sector will be subjected to a comprehensive assessment in terms of current expenditure in order to find reserves to reduce prices for final consumers. Belarus is likely to delay payments for gas supplies and drag out the trial in order to put pressure on Russia in negotiations over natural gas cost reductions for Belarus.
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.