Due to dialogue with EU Parliament political environment in Belarus could improve
Minsk is attempting to use various communication platforms to improve its image on the international arena. The Belarusian leadership has demonstrated openness to dialogue on human rights and democratisation issues. In all likelihood, the Belarusian authorities could gradually enhance the role of political parties before the local election campaign.
The European Parliament has been prompted to communicate with Belarusian MPs due to the new situation, when there is a need for communication channels with Minsk.
The Belarusian civil society is discussing the fact that the opposition has lost the monopoly on contacts with European bodies, hence, could lose the support in the Belarusian-European dialogue. The European Parliament has always been more harsh on Minsk and since mid-2000s, had no contacts with the Belarusian authorities. In addition, civil society is concerned about the composition of the EP delegation, which includes some European MPs loyal to the Kremlin.
Most likely, Minsk would like to boost its presence in the European information space to improve investment attractiveness and credit support. The Belarusian authorities aspire to mitigate criticism and tough resolutions of the EP. In addition, Minsk hopes that the EU Parliament would revise its position as regards Belarusian MPs’ participation in the Euronest PA.
The Belarusian authorities also demonstrate their readiness to somewhat improve the domestic political environment and expand opportunities for the opposition. The Belarusian authorities’ actions are likely to remain inconsistent, albeit repression are likely to weaken. Meanwhile, supporters of the protest activity would continue to test the authorities, and should mass protest activity increase, the law enforcement could react harshly.
Overall, the Belarusian authorities could step up the role of elected bodies in the decision-making in order to relax tension in society and absorb the protest movement.
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.