FORECAST FOR 2012
The economic agreements signed by President Lukashenko in Moscow and the first major sale of the assets of the Belarusian Beltransgaz will strengthen the political authority of President Lukashenko and his administration for a while.
It is also likely, that the proceeds received just in time, will allow the authorities to restore the lost popularity among the population, and in particular, the electoral rating of the President. At the same time, the security forces and the Government will continue fighting for the preservation of the conquered positions, which will only decrease the level control over the whole public administration system of Belarus.
The stabilization period in question, will last no longer than six months to a year. After that period, the acute issue of how to keep up citizen’s standard of living and the popularity of the authorities will return back on the agenda, most likely leading to a new management crisis.
In 2012 the main trends of the previous years will continue: the external debt will grow, there will be a shortage of the gold reserves, there will be some non-transparent privatization deals, competitive ability will deteriorate, incomes will fall, unemployment will rise and hidden labour migration to Russia will increase, there will be investment crisis and the gradual decay of production facilities.
The government has once again demonstrated that it would implement economic reforms under strong external pressure by creditors only. 2012 will inevitably result in recession and deindustrialization, increasing misbalances in the key sectors of economy and flows of financial resources, as well as general voluntarism and unpredictability in the economic policy.
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.