Industry prospects depend on Russian market
December 2014 saw the industrial production index go lower than 100% in comparison to the same month last year (the last time this happened was in February 2014).
The cumulative production growth of 1.9% as of 2014 year-end created a high comparative base for the 2015 index numbers. Under current conditions, the industry will be unable to demonstrate production growth, and it is reasonable to expect operational indicators to decrease. Devaluation will create difficulties for buying materials as a result of restrictions on price rises, but the competitive ability of the exported goods will be restored as a result of a further fall in the Belarusian ruble. If the economic situation in Russia continues to deteriorate, the big enterprises which are oriented towards the Russian market could see a large fall in their production levels, and underemployment and social instability may rise.
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.