Belarus increasing oil transit tariffs may lead to lower revenues from pipelines
According to the Antimonopoly Ministry’s regulation No 30 of September 28, 2016, as of October 8th, 2016, Belarus increased oil transit tariffs by 50%. Such tariffs are regulated by intergovernmental agreements. Belarus has increased the tariffs not so much due to the devaluation but due to the need to step up her positions in oil and gas talks with Russia. Belarus may revoke the increase if a compromise with Russia is achieved. Meanwhile, Russia may partially redirect oil transit through own ports in the coming years, which means that pipelines’ revenues would shrink and the pressure on Belarus would increase in terms of exporting Belarusian oil products through Russian ports. If Belarus manages to preserve high tariffs until 2016, her additional revenues could total USD 20 million. That said, Kazakhstan and some Russian mining companies might stop transporting oil through Belarus, which, in turn, could lead to proceeds falling by at least USD 50 million a year.
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.