Lukashenko proposes Vatican to mediate Belarus-EU dialogue
On April 9, President Lukashenko met with Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Order of Malta, Paul Friedrich von Furherrom and on April 10 he met with the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Belarus Claudio Gugerotti. During both meetings, the President noted that the Holy See could play a mediator role in the relations between Belarus and the Western European countries.
Lukashenko’s attempt to engage the Vatican in the negotiation process between Minsk and Brussels, first of all, implies the unwillingness of the Belarusian regime to fulfill the EU preconditions for normalization of relations. Therefore, the authorities propose to shift the Belarus-EU interstate dialogue to a new, inter-church level.
Secondly, Lukashenko made an allusion to a possible visit of the Pope to Belarus, which gives away a messianic desire of the Belarusian authorities to play a key role in the Eastern European region. If true, for instance, Belarus will be able to organize a historic meeting of representatives of the Catholic and the Orthodox churches in the country.
President Lukashenko has more than once talked about his desire to carry out such a civilizing mission and, apparently, did not part with this idea.
However, due to the low level of trust in the relations between the Belarusian government and the Catholic Church, as well as between the leadership of the neighboring countries, Russia and Poland in particular, this scenario is hardly probable. Therefore, the proposal made to the Holy See to mediate the Minsk-Brussels relations primarily demonstrates acute policy deficiency in the Presidential Administration.
Lukashenko’s milieu considers the Catholic Church as an alibi, which Minsk needs in the given circumstances to manipulate the political demands of the EU. In the best case scenario, the process of restoring the trust between the Vatican and Moscow will be mediated by Belarus. Such disproportionate geopolitical ambitions are rather common for Lukashenko’s policy, but in this particular case, they imply that in the confrontation with the West, the resources of Belarus are almost exhausted.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.