Proceeds from duties on petroleum products have little effect on international reserves
In January 2015, Belarus’ gold reserves totalled USD 4.724, USD 334.4 million less than in December 2014. In 2015, Belarus’ budget gained circa USD 100 mln from export duties on oil products produced from Russian oil. Proceeds from export duties on petroleum products only slow the shrinking pace of the international reserves. In order to reduce this pace further, the government is likely to tighten measures on consumer imports, to prolong restrictions on foreign currency purchases on the domestic market, and to enable new issues of foreign currency bonds with longer maturity period by Belarusian banks while increasing the interest rates on them. Privatisation should not be regarded as a source to replenish the international reserves; therefore, the only remaining option is loans from Belarus’ allies – Russia and China.
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.