Growth of external debt
Gross foreign debt of Belarus on 1 April 2011 reached USD 31711.8 million, increasing by USD 3221.2 million (11.3%) from the beginning of the year. External debt of public administration grew by USD 939.7 million (9.3%) to USD 10997.6 million.
Foreign debt of the monetary institutions amounted to USD 1713.5 million, decreasing in the first quarter by USD 141.8 million (7.6%). Debt of commercial banks increased by USD 1080.5 million (18.8%) to USD 6832.6 million. External debt of other sectors amounted to USD 11309.9 million, increasing by USD 1310.3 million (13.1%).
Direct investment increased by USD 32.5 million (3.9%) to USD 858.2 million.
External debt is growing and will grow, creating an issue for the government regarding debt management. In 2011 debt repayment were not particularly heavy however in 2012 debt service will exceed $ 2 billion. Accordingly, the authorities have two options: continue building a financial pyramid where the repayment of old debts comes from new ones or start privatization of strategic assets.
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.