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Minsk confident of positive dynamics in relations with EU regardless of dialogue on human rights

May 31, 2016 11:51

Human rights activists have supported the continuation of the EU-Belarus dialogue on human rights, however, they have marked "the lack of significant progress and systemic changes in the field of human rights and freedoms in Belarus”. The state is not interested in strengthening the influence of human rights defenders on the Belarusian-European agenda and their inclusion in the dialogue with the EU on human rights. After the lifting of sanctions, Minsk has been satisfied with the frequency of contacts with Western capitals, including at the highest level. The Belarusian leadership is ready to continue the dialogue with the EU on human rights issues, however without assuming any obligation to systemic changes in the human rights field. Minsk will block the Belarusian human rights community’s initiative to become a full member in the EU-Belarus human rights dialogue.

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Image: Catholic.by

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.