Lukashenko keeps trying formatting the “Teddy bear drop” as an international conspiracy
Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet. The EU reaction was a fairly restrained one. It implies, that Belarus is yet to ‘provide an adequate response to the ‘teddy bear affairs’’.
On August 8th, Belarusian Foreign Ministry recalled its embassy in Sweden and requested the Swedish diplomatic mission staff to leave Minsk. On August 10, the KGB sent an official notice to Swedish nationals who took part in the ‘Teddy bear drop’, requesting them to come to Belarus for questioning saying their rights would be guaranteed. The KGB hinted that if the Swedes come to the “crime scene”, it could have a positive impact on the fate of those arrested on charges linked to the incident: a Belarusian student and a realtor, who were accused of “aiding and abetting” illegal border crossing.
The actions of the Belarusian authorities have caused a serious international outcry (for example, Swedish Foreign Minister informally said that “Lukashenko is behaving like a bandit”), but so far it all has not resulted in a full scale international conflict. The main reason behind this is a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union.
Resolution adopted by the Committee for Political and Security issued at a special EU meeting on August 10th, indicates, that Brussels is likely to fall for Belarus’ provocations and to extend the sanctions, but only after the parliamentary elections, depending on the way they would be carried out.
Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to make the “Teddy bear drop” look like an international conspiracy rather than a failure in the air-defense system, have not had the desired effect yet due to a fairly restrained reaction by the European Union. Moreover, avoidance of the EU to immediately extend the sanctions stripped Belarus of “trump” arguments for mobilizing allied assistance from Moscow.
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.