Belarusian authorities hope to ease tension around NPP construction
On February 24th, 2017, in response to Angela Merkel statement and earlier statement by Lithuanian Seimas Speaker Viktoras Prantsketis, Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik promised that Belarus would present the results of stress tests at the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant to the European Commission. That said, Belarus’s proposal to provide the results of the stress-tests processed by the State Nuclear Supervisory Authority is not exactly a symmetrical response to Merkel’s proposal to allow international inspectors at the NPP construction site. By providing the stress-test report to the EC, the Belarusian authorities aim to ease tension around the nuclear power plant, but this step is unlikely to be enough to claim transparency of the construction.
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.