Having sufficient international reserves by due date will not guarantee EEU credit tranche for Belarus
According to the National Bank, Belarus’ international reserves as of January 1st, 2017 totalled USD 4.9 billion, i.e she met one of the key requirements for the fourth tranche from the EEU Anti-Crisis Fund. In December 2016, Belarus repaid more than USD 360 million of public debt, translated some existing assets into the gold reserves, and the National Bank issued bonds worth more than EUR 400 million. The population is likely to retain net supply of foreign currency, the National Bank is likely to issue new bonds for private persons and corporations with a total worth USD 600 million in Q1 2017; privatisation is likely to be put off until the oil and gas dispute with Russia is resolved. In addition, Belarus is likely to seek rapprochement with the international financial institutions to expand the range of potential creditors. The EEU Anti-Crisis Fund’s third tranche has not been disbursed due to Belarus’ failure to meet three of 22 requirements set by the Fund, and Russia may suspend any further disbursements by the EEU until Belarus fully repaid due gas debt, even if Belarus meets all the EEU requirements.
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.