Belarus is seeking additional revenues due to reduced proceeds from export duties
In 2016, the Finance Ministry expects to raise USD 1.1 billion from duties on exports of petroleum products. Earlier it was estimated that the annual proceeds will be at least USD 1.5 billion. Due to lower proceeds from oil duties, Belarus may step up export schemes to sell petrochemical products produced from Russian oil and increase imports of gasoline and diesel fuel from Russia. Belarus may use any restrictions on fuel supply from Russia to Ukraine to gain additional revenues. Belarus is unlikely to resume large-scale export schemes of bituminous mixtures and solvents, but Russia will not seriously object if such schemes are implemented in reasonable amounts (USD 100-200 million per 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.