Chairman of the upper House of the Parliament Anatoly Rubinov visited Lida of the Grodno region
On 13 May Lida hosted a meeting of the Council for Cooperation of Local Self-Governments under the auspices of the Council of the Republic “Efforts of Local Councils of Deputies of Lida region in creating favourable conditions for development of tourist and excursion services and rural tourism”, opened by its Chairman of the Board Anatoly Rubinov.
Recent initiatives of the local authorities aimed at the development of tourism in the region. Regardless of the existing development programme in this regard and some positive changes, the effect of its implementation remains low. The currency crisis and lack of resources to address it, finally forced the central authorities to look into possible ways of attracting foreign currency into the country more seriously. In 2010 export of services amounted to USD 146.7 million, about 4 million foreigners visited Belarus. Today any source of foreign currency is important.
Yet on 11 May the Yanka Kupala Grodno State University hosted a meeting to discuss the status and prospects of development of tourism in the Grodno region with participation of the Director of the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, and on 13 May the same issue was discussed between local government representatives with participation of Senators. Indeed, the Grodno region has a significant amount of cultural and historical sites remained, that could attract foreigners, moreover, there is a significant potential for development of agro-and ecotourism, and given the situation of currency crisis it could positively affect the unemployment.
However, given the role the local Councils of Deputies play in the system of local governance, the Senators’ meeting with representatives of local government was only a declaration of the desire to change the situation, not implying significant changes. Currently the Grodno local government is not interested in developing small businesses that do not generate significant tax revenue to the local budgets.
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.