Gap between high and low-wage Belarusian regions will increase
According to the National Statistics Committee, in October 2015, while nominal wages reduced by BYR 25,400 on average throughout the country, in 10 lowest paid regions – by BYR 155,700. In regions with higher wages, wages fall slower due to the presence of highly profitable companies with a sustainable market niche. The overall decline in wages in Belarus will continue. The Vitebsk and Mogilev regions may face a rapid decline in retail turnover, a rise in unemployment, and a higher number of bankruptcies among state-owned enterprises. Amid fewer employment opportunities on foreign markets, domestic labour competition will increase, leading to costs reduction by enterprises thanks to wage cuts and, hence, better competitiveness of some domestic products on foreign markets.
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.