Russia to allocate USD 110 million to restructure external debt of Belarus
The Russian government has approved a draft in Russian roubles equivalent of USD 110 million. Funds will be provided for a 10-year period with a 4-year grace period. The loan will mean a timeout for Belarus: she will partially refinance current debt to Russia and slow down the reduction in gold reserves, but her bonds will become slightly less profitable. The Belarusian government will continue negotiations with other creditors to refinance debt on new terms. The loan is minimal and was meant to reduce Belarus’ appetites for financial aid. In addition, Russia by this increased pressure on Belarus to end confiscation practices at the Belarusian border with regard to transit goods by Russian companies.
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.