Authorities hope to join Bologna process without fulfilling basic requirements
First Education Deputy Minister Bogush said that the Education Ministry had sent a request to the Bologna Secretariat to join the Bologna process and gain access to the European Higher Education Area.
The Belarusian authorities’ position about the country’s accession to the Bologna process is controversial, but they are prompted to respond to community-based initiatives to join the EHEA hoping to make Belarusian education more attractive to international students. In 2012 Belarus made its first attempt to join the Bologna process, which failed and prompted her to make some ‘cosmetic’ changes to the higher education system. These changes however do not relate to such fundamental principles as academic freedom, institutional autonomy or student participation in administration of higher education.
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.