Belarus is preparing for new loans
According to the Finance Ministry, on March 31st, Belarus repaid USD 75.9 million to the IMF – the last part of the loan. Having fulfilled all her obligations vis-a-vis the IMF, Belarus gained a positive prospect for new borrowings from international lending institutions. Belarus is unlikely to sign a new programme with the IMF before elections, however she will continue to cooperate with the EurAsEC ACF, will use Chinese loans for industrial modernisation, and will appeal to international creditors to refinance the Eurobond issue maturing in 2015. If there is no sufficient funding from Russia, Belarus might embark on reforming the economy, which will give a start to a new program of cooperation with the IMF in 2016.
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.