Lukashenko ignored the CIS Summit in Dushanbe
Belarusian president fails to get the necessary support from the Russian leadership therefore he sent Mikhail Maysnikovich to take part in the Summit. Myasnikovich is accumulating and developing Eastern contacts, however he is also blamed by the president for failures with regard to Russia.
Instead of President Lukashenko Belarus has been represented by Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich at the Anniversary CIS Summit.
A week ago in Sochi President Lukashenko had unsuccessful talks with Russian President Medvedev on the most pressing issues for Belarus therefore he was not interested in meeting him again. In particular, the parties have not agreed about a loan secured by the assets of “Belaruskali” or by the proceeds from the sale of government’s stake in Belarusian enterprises (first of all, “Beltransgaz”).
Therefore at the Summit Belarus has been represented by Prime Minister Myasnikovich, who continues gaining scores as a major Belarusian international negotiator. This Summit was the first highest level meeting he attended and could communicate directly with President Medvedev and other presidents of the CIS countries (the Summit was attended by 8 of 11 CIS presidents).
However, the authority of Myasnikovich is in the rigid frameworks set by the President Lukashenko and his inner circle of power structures. The president has the exclusive right to take decisions about the most crucial issues for the Belarusian economy (privatization, economic reforms). Work of Myasnikovich on the Eastern policy of Belarus will be interfered by the security forces close to the President.
For instance, the action plan made public on 30 August concerning stabilization of the currency market ignored the main requirement set by the main financial partners of Belarus (EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund and the IMF), i.e. to eliminate the multiplicity of exchange rates. Prime Minister Myasnikovich is responsible for negotiations with these organizations. However, the President appointed the State Control Committee and the Security Council, not the Government, as the principal implementers of the plan of action.
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.