Local businesses lack motivation to invest
On March 31st, 2017, the National Agency for Investments and Privatization published a collection of "Investment Projects in Belarus", which included 38 investment projects in various sectors of the economy. Some projects lack indication of the financial model, which is an obstacle for large investors. Foreign investors are unlikely to show interest in most of the listed projects. Foreign investors prefer to invest in already operating businesses in Belarus. New investors are likely to be interested in quick-paying projects with the return of investments within 3-5 years and with state guarantees. Large foreign companies are not interested in investing in countries with high business risks and the lack of private property rights guarantees. Local businesses could implement some of the listed projects, but the risks of joint activities with state enterprises prevail over possible benefits, due to possible state interference with the project implementation at any stage, or distribution of profits upon the project completion.
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.