Kremlin has resumed graduated financial and economic support for Belarus in 2017
Amid settlement of the protracted energy dispute, Minsk and Moscow have restored neutral media coverage. Moscow has resumed graduated credit and economic support for the Belarusian economy, as agreed by the Russian and Belarusian leaders. Yet the conflict potential in bilateral relations has not been exhausted and manifested through problems with access of Belarusian produces to the Russian market and poor cooperation between some potentially rival agencies.
In an article devoted to the 25th anniversary of Belarus’ independent foreign policy, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makey emphasised that cooperation problems between Belarus and Russia in trade, economic, fuel-energy, border and other spheres were often artificial.
Apparently, this year, Minsk would obtain the expected financial and economic support from Moscow. For example, the Eurasian Stabilisation and Development Fund has already transferred the third US 300 million tranche to Belarus. In addition, Belarus expects the fourth USD 300 million tranche this year and a new USD 1 billion loan agreement to be concluded. Russia has resumed the oil supply at 24 million tons per year and called off the obligation to redeliver one million ton of fuel.
Yet the conflict potential in bilateral relations has not been exhausted. For instance, Rosselkhoznadzor has banned more than ten tons of meat import to Russia lacking veterinary documents. Meanwhile, the Belarusian Agriculture Ministry and Rosselkhoznadzor have stepped up cooperation in order to remove all barriers for import of Belarusian produces to Russia.
That said, yet another tension is brewing in Russo-Belarusian relations as Russian customs have refused to accept certificates of compliance issued by other EEU states, including Belarus, when registering customs declarations. The Russian customs agency has put Russian firms authorised to issue a certification package in a more advantageous position.
Overall, Minsk has rescinded demarches and criticism of the Eurasian integration along with the accusations of non-fulfilment of allied commitments by Russia. In its turn, the Kremlin has restored graduated financial support for the Belarusian economy in the coming year.
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.