New tranches from EDB require Belarus to reduce state control over economy
In April 2017, the Eurasian Development Bank transferred USD 300 million, the third tranche within in the loan agreement with Belarus and updated the loan terms. The terms for fifth through seventh tranches have been amended to include, inter alia, requirements to improve corporate governance in 17 joint-stock companies and to transfer 45 state enterprises to communal ownership. State owned shares in some enterprises are likely to be offered for sale, but due to the lack of interest from foreign investors, part of enterprises is unlikely to be sold and could be bought by Belarusian companies. That said, if enterprises would come with an encumbrance banning layoffs and imposing other social obligations, sales of state shares are unlikely to materialise. Requirements to reduce the state role in the economy have repeatedly been included in the terms of various loan programmes, but were never implemented. However, taking into account Belarus’ interest in the IMF loan amid the need to repay public debt, the authorities could accept such 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.