Belarus to host CSTO exercises
On February 9th, after a meeting in Sochi with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin. Lukashenka met with General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Nikolai Bordyuzha. They discussed security issues, the CSTO concern with the potential influx of refugees and the build-up of military infrastructure near the "CSTO borders”. They also discussed the upcoming exercises of CSTO peacekeeping forces, which should take place in September in Belarus. Rumours are that the CSTO exercises will be held very close to the "CSTO borders”.
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.