Repairs at Naftan will worsen economic statistics in short term
Naftan oil refinery will undergo a planned overhaul from mid-August to mid-September 2014, i.e. two-thirds of the refinery will stop working.
The refinery last had a major overhaul in September-October 2011. A break in Naftan’s operations will imply reduced oil imports and oil products export, wholesale trade figures will be corrected downwards, the industrial production index in the Vitebsk region may drop below the August 2013 standard, leading to slower growth and GRP dynamics. However, the overhaul will have only short-term effects, and the Vitebsk region will improve its performance by as soon as October 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.