International trade successes bolster Belarusian ruble
In June 2014, the international trade surplus totalled USD 240 million (the best result in 2014).
As a result, the pressure on the foreign exchange market has reduced, the international reserves have been used at a slower pace to pay out the outstanding public debt in foreign currency, foreign currency inflows have increased due to growing exports, and some measures, such as licensing, have proved their efficiency in curbing food and industrial imports. Given the expected negative impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy, Belarus’ exports of engineering products may decrease further, but could be compensated with increased exports and higher prices on meat and dairy 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.