Belarus’ officials ready to sign EEC founding treaty, but cannot guarantee its implementation

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April 22, 2016 18:50

During the Belarusian Industrial Forum, Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said that Belarus was ready in principle to sign the Eurasian Economic Community founding treaty. However, some bilateral issues between Minsk and the Kremlin remain unresolved, such as oil duty exemptions and a USD 2 billion intergovernmental loan, although President Lukashenko said that he reached relevant agreements during his meetings with presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia on May 8th. It is likely that the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia will sign the EEC founding treaty as planned – on May 29th. But the document might be a declaration of intent without rigorous terms and obligations.

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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.