Belarusians help National Bank to restrain depletion of gold reserves
According to the National Bank, as of April 1st, Belarus’ gold reserves totalled USD 4 560.5 million – shrank by USD 90.8 million since March. Experts have assessed such a depletion rate as ‘fairly moderate’, considering that in March 2015 was the peak of external debt payments. On the positive side, in March 2015, the net sale of foreign currency cash by population totalled SD 243.8 million. In addition, due to some ‘stabilisation’ of the BYR, the National Bank did not have to use international reserves to support BYR exchange rate. Since Belarus is expecting to receive a USD 110 million loan from Russia, her gold reserves may stop dwindling in the coming month. In addition, Belarusian state banks may issue new currency bonds on domestic market and rules regarding non-centralized imports by Belarusian citizens may be toughened. Trending net sales of foreign currency by population will persist in the coming months due to falling incomes and the need to convert foreign currency savings to support consumption levels.
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.