Minsk anticipates more contact with Washington
Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister Guryanov met with the multi-sectoral delegation from the United States, including representatives of the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Defence Ministry.
Amid growing geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West, Belarus hopes that Washington will soften its position towards the Belarusian leadership, and that contact with the United States and the EU will increase. Meanwhile, she does not want to aggravate the Kremlin with the prospects of normalising relations with the West. The Belarusian authorities also want to limit cooperation with the United States to humanitarian and economic issues, without having to change the political situation in the country.
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.