Belarus’ mechanical engineering production continues to fall
According to the National Statistics Committee, in April 2014 manufacturers of vehicles, machines and equipment reduced their production volume by more than 20 %, compared to April 2013.
Such a decrease is evidencing that crisis is building-up at Belarus’ largest machine-building enterprises. Engineering enterprises require additional government loans. In addition, stocks at the machine-building enterprises are expected to grow in order to keep up with the planned production volumes, as well as state programmes will be expanded to sell machinery equipment at a discount. The implemented measures will hardly save workers from mass lay-offs and shorter working week. Until enterprises receive financial assistance, they will experience problems with settlements with their counterparties, so as the industry is loss making.
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.