Minsk attempts to translate political rapprochement with Turkey into economic and trade cooperation
Following official talks in Minsk, Belarusian and Turkish Presidents, Alexander Lukashenko and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed a joint communiqué, which called upon the expansion and deepening of bilateral relations in several priority areas. Minsk aims to translate friendly relations with Ankara into deeper economic relations, especially, to boost Turkish investment in Belarus and Belarusian exports to Turkey. The Belarusian government is attempting to compensate for the reduction in Russian oil and gas rents by developing economic cooperation with other major global or regional players with similar views on the international agenda, such as, for example, China and Turkey. In addition, Belarus’ attempts to diversify economic relations, albeit without tangible results in most cases, could somewhat strengthen Minsk’s position in talks with the Kremlin.
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.