Belarusian economy to see two-year GDP decline
According to the IMF forecast, if current economic reforms continue and the situation on external markets improves, Belarusian economy may resume growth only by 2018 and in 2016 it will shrink by 3% and in 2017 - by 0.5%. The key risk factors for the Belarusian economy include the low level of reserves, increased levels of public debt and deteriorated financial health of enterprises. The Belarusian government is likely to fulfil the IMF recommendations partially - further cut the share of state subsidies for household utility costs and attempt to sell some state assets, which will require the transition to international accounting standards. The state will not give up on performance plans for enterprises, but may narrow tasks substantially. If the state introduces additional measures to ensure Belarus’ financial stability, the IMF is likely to start negotiations for a new loan in late 2016 - early 2017.
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.