Belaya Rus offers to mediation services in Belarus-West conflict
On February 26th, Belaya Rus quango Chairman Mr. Radkov and “Self-Defense” Polish party Chairman Mr. Kuropatwinski signed a cooperation agreement in Minsk.
“Belaya Rus” quango strengthens its international legitimacy in Belarus’ Western policy direction, in particular in relations with Poland. As conceived by the organization’s leadership, the agreement would enhance the ability of “Belaya Rus’” participation in multilateral and bilateral projects with the EU, aimed at civil society and the expert community in Belarus.
The cooperation agreement with the Polish party is an important stage in the international legitimization of “Belaya Rus” quango. Popularity and influence of the “Self-Defense” party in Poland and in the European political field are irrelevant in this case. Belarus authorities die to show a “breakthrough” in the country’s international isolation both, with regard to Minsk-Brussels relations and to Minsk-Warsaw bilateral relations in particular.
What “Belaya Rus” does is likely to be consistent with the Belarus’ efforts to reorganize the EU programme “Dialogue on modernization with the Belarusian society”, aiming at excluding some independent Belarusian experts from taking part in the programme. Earlier it was reported that the Belarusian Foreign Ministry sent proposals to reform the programme to Brussels, reforms envisaged cooperation with only those experts, which would be defined by Belarus. In particular, during the meeting on February 26th, a “Belaya Rus” representative emphasized that cooperation interests with the “Self-Defense” party were strictly the information analysis field.
“Belaya Rus’” targeting European cooperation is likely to have a broader dimension, namely, to limit participation of Belarusian NGOs in the EaP “Civil Society Forum”, a non-political dimension of the “Eastern Partnership”. If successful, it will secure comfortable working conditions for the Belarusian authorities in both programmes.
In addition, the government is interested to start cooperation with the EU in the framework of these programmes from scratch, because both programmes (the “Eastern Partnership” and the “Dialogue on modernization with Belarusian society”) were launched without the participation of the Belarusian authorities or the pro-government organizations, but with their opponents in Belarus.
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.