GDP of Belarus will stop falling only when economic situation in Russia improves
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January-May 2015 Belarus’ GDP declined by 3%. Russia’s economy has declined at almost the same rate - 3.2%, which has demonstrated the direct dependence of the Belarusian economy on recession in Russia. The Belarusian economy has declined due to a decrease in industrial production and amid falling sales on the Russian market. This negative trend will persist. As a result, the nominal growth rates of wages would lag behind schedule (except in the public sector), investment programmes might be reduced or postponed to a later period, layoffs at industrial enterprises would continue in both the public and private sectors. The Belarusian economy links its hopes for improvement with the possible increase in oil prices, as well as with the lifting of sanctions against Russia, which will lead to increased investment activity on the Russian market and a corresponding increase in demand for Belarusian products.
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.