Russia to fund Naftan modernisation
On May 21st, Deputy Prime Minister Semashko announced that a principle agreement had been reached with Russia’s Sberbank regarding a USD 2 billion loan to reconstruct the petrochemical complex Naftan. If completed, this project will increase Naftan’s refining capacity to 6-7 million tons and will improve p-Xylene production economy. Belarus will no longer need to import these products and will have their guaranteed supply to satisfy the needs of the chemical industry. Belarus might also receive loans from other Russian banks to modernise her industry.
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.