Russian governmental loan to refinance VTB-bank loan
Belarus’ Council of Ministers adopted a decree (No 339, April 10th, 2014) which approved the procedures for an intergovernmental loan from Russia amounting to USD 450 million with a ten-year repay period at 4% per annum. This loan implies that Belarus failed to find other funding sources (privatisation, foreign trade) to service its public debt and to replenish its international reserves. This loan would refinance the USD 440 mln VTB bank loan, raised in December 2013 for six months. Belarus also anticipates new loans from Russia’s commercial banks.
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.