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Minsk counts on financial support from United States

April 22, 2016 18:58

Last week, Belarus’ Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich visited New York, where he held talks with U.S. politicians and businessmen.

Amid growing tensions between the Kremlin and the West, the political crisis in Ukraine and the de-politicisation of Belarusian-European cooperation, Minsk hopes that the USA will lift the economic sanctions, thus enabling the authorities to balance out their increased financial dependence on Russia with Western investments and loans from international financial organisations, the IMF in particular. The Belarusian government is also counting on American business’ interest in promoting their products on the Russian market. It is ready to make some concessions to Washington, for example, to enable expansion of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Belarus. However, official Minsk would not yield to the pressure to change its domestic policies or improve relations with the opposition.

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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.