Belarusian president wants to stop discussions of economic reforms within state apparatus
President Lukashenka anticipates formulating the following five-year development plan after a sharp internal discussion between supporters of market reforms and conservative managers. The president seeks to enhance liability for the preservation of the existing socio-economic and political model for all state managers. The new development programme is likely to be an ideological guide rather than a real action plan.
For the first time, the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly has been scheduled after the presidential election. Previous Assemblies of the Belarusian nomenclature were held before the most important political campaigns (referenda and presidential elections) and were used to promote Lukashenka’s electoral programme for the next five years.
Some analysts believe, that the 5th All-Belarusian People’s Assembly has been schedule after the elections due to the failure to implement the previous five-year plan and the authorities’ expectations for economic recovery. However, in H1 2016, GDP continued to decline and the economy showed no signs of recovery. International economic institutions and independent analysts say the negative trends in the Belarusian economy are likely to persist in the medium term.
This year, the president declared his intention to use this event not as a platform for campaigning, but as a platform for discussing the country’s further development: "We are not intending to engage in some kind of PR there. We really need to decide what to do in the next five years. We need to guide the society. And it will be an open discussion between the power and the representatives of the people”.
That said, after the presidential elections, a serious debate broke in the president’s circle between marketers and conservatives, i.e. supporters of the existing model. The president has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to the "Belarusian development model" and criticised supporters of reforms. However, the issue of structural reforms has not been resolved and is constantly appearing on the agenda, especially in negotiations with international financial institutions. The president noted that while preparing the final version of the socio-economic development programme disputes had occurred: "And there are a lot of debates over the economy, rather controversies. Therefore, I have instructed to finalise the programme in ten days”.
In all likelihood, the debate about the need for a systemic review of the current economic and social policies is taking place at all management levels in the government. Apparently, it has required additional measures to achieve a single solution for all managers. The 5th All-Belarusian People’s Assembly should put an end to the debate about the country’s development during Lukashenka’s fifth presidential term.
According to analysts, the draft socio-economic development programme prepared in the government contains only ideological declarations without implementation mechanisms. President Lukashenka said that he hoped to go through the crisis without structural economic reforms in anticipation for improved external environment, "We need to outlive this period”.
With the 5th All Belarusian People’s Assembly the president aims to close the discussion between conservatives and marketers over the country’s development in the next five years.
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.