Belarusian president relies on personal contacts with other heads of state to revive economic relations
At the opening of the Belarusian-Egyptian Business Forum in Cairo, President Lukashenka talked about the competitive advantages of Belarus; in addition, during his visit to Khartoum, he declared Belarus’ readiness to participate in the exploration and production of oil and gas in Sudan. Using his personal contacts, the president aims to diversify Belarusian exports to countries with similar political regimes. Apparently, President Lukashenka hopes for a breakthrough in bilateral trade thanks to close relations with senior management of third countries, following the example of Belarusian-Venezuelan relations during the President Hugo Chavez's government. The Belarusian authorities continue the search for partners in developing countries to compensate for the economic relations with Russia, which suffer from chronic contradictions.
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.