Minsk and Astana attempt to coordinate their actions vis-à-vis Kremlin
At an informal meeting, the Kazakh and Belarusian presidents discussed a range of issues related to last week’s talks that involved the Customs Union, Ukraine, and EU.
Ukraine’s European integration enables official Minsk and Astana to balance the Kremlin’s influence and strengthen their positions in the Eurasian integration process. Both leaders are concerned about statements made by the Russian authorities, and about the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine. In the future, they might attempt to coordinate their policies in order to mitigate the pressure 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.