Minsk is concerned about Moscow's unilateral revision of relations with EEU partners
Due to enhanced competition on the narrowing Eurasian market, Moscow is unilaterally revising relations with Minsk. Minsk is attempting to defend its interests using contacts in Russian regions and through EEU mechanisms. Russia is likely to seek compensation for its financial and economic losses by reducing benefits for her partners in the Eurasian integration, including Belarus, regardless of bilateral agreements within the Union State framework and multilateral agreements within the EEU.
The Belarusian State Standardization Committee’s press service announced that the non-acceptance by the Russian Federal Customs Service of the certificates and declarations from the EEU member states required a prompt decision.
Russia is reluctant to enable her EEU partners to gain access to the shrinking Russian market. Quite the opposite, protectionism and defending own business interests have enhanced among the EEU partners.
Despite the fact that the oil and gas dispute between Belarus and Russia has been resolved and Minsk signed the EEU Customs Code, the new tension is rising in Russo-Belarusian bilateral relations related to the refusal of the Russian FCS to recognise certificates and declarations from other EEU states, including Belarus. In addition, tension over foodstuffs supply between Minsk and Moscow remains high. Rosselkhoznadzor has not lifted restrictions on the some foodstuffs supply from Belarus and carried on with the information campaign in the Russian media. For instance, Russian Izvestia newspaper recently wrote about the possible re-export by Belarus of large volumes of Turkish tomatoes. Due to Belarus’ refusal to privatise MAZ in favour of Russian KAMAZ, Belarusian manufacturers continue to lose the Russian market.
The Belarusian president has used his contacts in the Russian regions to channel his claims vis-à-vis the Kremlin. Apparently, he has realised that relations with the Kremlin based on the ‘brotherly’ integration rhetoric have ended. While meeting with Rostov region Governor Golubev, President Lukashenka urged to create conditions for fair competition between Belarusian and Russian partners.
Overall, regardless of the formal rapprochement among the EEU states, there are some contradictory trends in the economic relations among them and enhanced disintegration processes.
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.