Quantitative economic indicators retained their priority
On January 16th, a governmental decree was published which provided a detailed implementation plan for socio-economic development in 2014.
The data in the plan suggests that economic performance indicators will focus on quantitative economic parameters. Quantitative targets will be communicated to export-oriented regional enterprises and concerns, despite their loss-making in some product exports positions. The degree of detail in the plan regarding performance parameters implies greater interference by the state in enterprises’ activities. In H1 2014, economic growth should be anticipated at around 1%. Substantial foreign investments are envisaged only in the city of Minsk and only in H1 2014, which means one or two major privatization transactions in 2014.
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.