On January 1st, 2014, Belarus’ gross foreign debt was 54.8% of GDP
According to the National Bank, Belarus’ gross public debt in 2013 increased by USD 5.4 billion by January 1st, 2014 and totalled USD 39.1 billion, which means that repayment of external debt depends on the stability in raising new loans.
Moreover, public debt servicing costs will grow steadily. Most likely, the authorities will have to issue new government bonds aiming at foreign export markets. Also, potentially, the government will have to down-price the privatized state assets and increase the pressure on the banking sector in order to attract capital from foreign banking institutions.
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.