Belarusian authorities aspire to normalize relations with US and EU
Last week, the EU lifted sanctions against 24 Belarusian officials. Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities have not made any public moves in order to fulfil the requirements on which these sanctions have been based. On August 2nd through August 4th, a US Congress delegation visited Belarus. During the visit, they met with Lukashenka and both sides expressed mutual hope for normalisation of bilateral relations. Amid the lack of progress with the human rights situation in Belarus, the Belarusian authorities regard moves by the West as additional evidence that in order to normalise relations they simply should refrain from new repressions.
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.