Weak Russian rouble deteriorates Belarusian trade balance
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January – April 2015 Belarus’ totalled USD 934.7 million. One of the main culprits of the deteriorating foreign trade was price cuts on goods supplied to Russia and the Russian Central Bank’s intention to increase gold reserves by buying foreign currency on the market. Due to weakening of the Russian rouble, the Belarusian rouble would depreciate against the currency basket too; exporters’ foreign currency proceeds would reduce, the competition on the Russian market would increase and Belarusian companies will suffer financial losses. In addition, some prices would go up on the domestic market. In order to remedy the situation, the Belarusian government may take additional measures to limit the access of imported products to Belarusian retailers.
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.