Belarus to continue using Polish minority as leverage in relations with Poland
On February 10th, the Polish Sejm approved Konrad Pawlik’s nomination as Ambassador of Poland to Belarus. When Sikorski was the Polish Foreign Minister, Konrad Pawlik worked in the Foreign Ministry’s Eastern Department. After his appointment, Pawlik said that he would focus his efforts on improving the situation with the Polish minority in Belarus. In general, it is likely that the Polish policy towards Belarus will continue to follow that of the EU; however, due to the common border between Belarus and Poland, the latter is more interested in Belarus than the EU as a whole. Yet it is difficult to say whether Poland will promote initiatives aimed at strengthening good neighbourly relations with Belarus independently or through the pan-European institutions. Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities are likely to continue using the Polish minority as a leverage in relations with Poland.
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.