Belarus hopes West will soften its positions unconditionally
The Belarusian authorities refused to participate in the two-day Eastern Partnership Summit in Prague. Amid growing confrontation between Russia and the West, Belarus anticipates that the EU will soften its positions unconditionally as regards the Belarusian authorities. Belarus also stakes on her increasingly important role in the region and on her balanced position. Simultaneously, Belarusian leadership fears a nervous reaction from the Kremlin to their participation in the EAP Summit, where Ukraine is at the top of the agenda. The Belarusian government is not willing to become involved in a confrontation between the West and Russia and is saving room for manoeuvre between Ukraine and the Kremlin.
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.