Stabilization loan: slow-motion negotiations continue
The next round of the Belarus-Russia talks on credit and financial cooperation was held on 11 April in Moscow.
During the meeting, the parties have identified measures, which could be implemented within the framework of the mid-term economic policy for Belarus, and also agreed to hold consultations between representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of both countries in the Russian Finance Ministry starting on 14 April.
Russia delays the issuance of the stabilization loan to Belarus, forcing the country to accept certain conditions. Namely, unification of economic policies aimed at reducing amounts of subsidies, grants and use of other non-market instruments of economy stimulation, devaluation of the Belarusian ruble and privatization. Obviously, the positions and interests of both countries often differ radically. For instance, the Belarusian National Bank insists on senselessness of devaluation, while Russia considers it justified and offers to discuss it in numbers and speed rate. Belarus wishes to receive an “adequate” price proposal for its assets, while Russia proposes to make non-monetary exchange of shares (an exchange of assets within the holdings). Belarus is not ready to give up on credits and subsidies to state-owned enterprises to maintain high growth rates (which is almost never used in Russia).
At the same time, Russia could not but support the country it created the Union State with. Therefore, in the near future (April-May), Belarus will receive a $ 1 billion loan, while another $ 2 billion of stabilization loan in the framework of EurAsEC will be torpedoed by Russia.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.