Russia’s loan has not saved Belarus’ gold reserves
In September 2014, Belarus’ gold reserves slumped by USD 284.9 million to USD 6 billion.
Belarus has received a USD 1.55 billion loan from the Russian government, which she used to repay a previously raised bridge loan from VTB Bank. Belarus’ international reserves are expected to further languish due to negative trends on the Russian market reducing foreign currency earnings of Belarusian exporters. The last tranche from the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund’s loan might be disbursed. The government might offer the population to buy the next issue of state foreign currency bonds, and interest rates on foreign currency deposits might go up. The Belarusian banking system may experience an outflow of Russian investors’ deposits due to an increase in the interest rates on foreign currency deposits in the Russian 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.