Belarus raises stakes in relations with Kremlin and European Union
At a meeting with President Lukashenko Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was ready to open a new era of bilateral relations with Belarus. The parties signed a number of agreements, which envisage substantial loans for implementation of joint infrastructure projects. However, these are long-term agreements for tied loans, rather than investment cooperation deals. Belarus is unlikely to count on implementation of all agreements with the Chinese leadership, she rather plans to use Sino-Belarusian cooperation in order to reduce the pressure from the Kremlin, and as an additional factor in settling relations with Western capitals.
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.