Minsk aspires to step up pace of normalization with Washington
The USA have prolonged the suspension of sanctions against nine Belarusian companies for another six months. Minsk aspires to boost normalization with Washington, especially after the US presidential election. The Belarusian authorities may allow more staff at the US Embassy in Minsk and return the ambassador, which, according to them, is one of the most important issues for Washington in bilateral relations. In addition, Minsk is counting on Poland’s help in improving relations with Washington, a close US ally in the region, especially, provided, that Polish-Belarusian relations are on the rise. The Belarusian authorities anticipate lowering the role of human rights issues in Belarus-US relations after the parliamentary elections in Belarus.
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.