Lukashenka prompts Foreign Ministry to boost international economic cooperation
President Lukashenka has requested the Foreign Ministry to focus on foreign trade in some specific areas. Apparently, the Foreign Ministry efforts to boost cooperation with Asian countries have not yet delivered concrete results for the Belarusian economy. In late May – early June, the Belarusian officials significantly increased the level of contacts with China, India and Pakistan in an attempt to balance out possible pressure from the Kremlin and the EU during the presidential campaign in Belarus. Recently, the president has requested the Foreign Ministry and embassies abroad to focus on marketing products of Belarusian state-owned enterprise in the coming months, in order to unload stocks and preserve the employment levels at state enterprises until the presidential campaign.
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.