Belarus’ authorities use inauguration of Ukrainian president for breakthrough in international relations
On June 7th, President Lukashenko attended the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine’s new president in Kyiv.
Lukashenko’s visit to Kyiv was kept a secret until the meeting between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin during the D-Day 70th Anniversary celebration in Normandy. The Belarusian authorities seek to use the opportunities opened up by events in Ukraine to step forward onto the international arena – primarily to normalise relations with European capitals amid the currently trending de-escalation of the confrontation between the Kremlin and Kiev. The Belarusian government also hopes to gain economic benefits from the Russo-Ukrainian conflict by increasing the penetration of Belarusian products into Ukraine and mediating the penetration of Ukrainian goods to the EEC market and vice versa - Russian goods to the Ukrainian market.
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.