Belarus hopes that presidential elections will not hamper cooperation with EU
On June 29th, 2015, Minsk hosted the fifth round of the Eastern Partnership informal ministerial dialogue. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Makei expressed satisfaction with the development of relations with the EU, and in an interview with the Belarusian portal TUT.by said that he hoped that the election results would allow the EU and Belarus "to avoid that vicious circle that somehow always occurred in past”. In addition, Vadim Gigin, Chief Editor of Belaruskaya Dumka, a state-run magazine was even more concrete regarding Belarus’ hopes about the EU assessment of the upcoming presidential elections, “albeit noting some progress in the conduct of the elections, western observers for the most part will remain very critical... The main thing is that such bias should not interfere with how our relations develop”.
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.