Belarusian authorities wish to improve their relations with OSCE
Deputy Foreign minister of Belarus Alena Kupchyna took part in an informal high-level OSCE meeting in Helsinki.
Official Minsk intends to tone down the criticism of international observers on presidential elections in Belarus. Belarusian authorities also try to remove the topic of the electoral campaign from the agenda, focusing on the unstable situation in the region and their role in mitigating the conflict in the Ukraine instead. Most likely the authorities will not put pressure on their political opponents, at least at early stages of the campaign.
An informal meeting consisted of two parts: a ceremonial meeting and an informal high-level discussion on current OSCE-related issues. Besides, Deputy Foreign minister Alena Kupchyna held bilateral meetings with the director of OSCE/ODIHR Michael Link and Deputy Foreign ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, and Sweden.
It is worth mentioning that the official Minsk made numerous claims about the need to reform OSCE. Belarusian authorities usually voice such initiatives when OSCE criticizes their handling of elections in Belarus.
During his meeting with the acting head of OSCE the foreign minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic, Foreign minister of Belarus U. Makei formulated his vision of the possible transformation of OSCE, underlining a serious crisis of the organization in regards to the conflict in the Ukraine: “Today the main principle of OSCE activities is accusations according to the principle “I am right, you are not”. Our common goal is to stop these mutual accusations and to find common ground for OSCE activity”.
In her turn the head of the Central Election Committee Lidziya Yarmoshyna selected the same mode of behavior in regards to OSCE at the seminar dedicated to elections in Vienna. According to Yarmoshyna the main thesis of her speech at the seminar was the thesis that the international observers should not be used to pressure states. At the same time Belarusian authorities are ready to listen to criticism from the part of international observers underlining the desire to improve the human rights situation as well as election law in the country. However, this does not mean change of election practices.
According to press secretary of Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dzmitry Mironchyk the first round of Belarus-EU dialogue on human rights will take place on July 28th in Brussels. The attempt to start such a dialogue was made in 2009 before previous presidential elections. A single round of the discussion took place then.
Official Minsk intends to tone down the criticism of international observers of the presidential elections, increasingly accentuating the unstable situations in the region and the role of Belarus in mitigating the conflict in the Ukraine.
At the same time the authorities indeed softened their stance to their opponents which is most probably a consequence of a low activity of oppositional parties at the elections. Besides, the population seems to be disinterested in the elections as well.
At the same time, official Minsk intends to tone down significantly the criticism of international organizations on the issues of human rights and the transparency of presidential elections.
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.