Minsk counts on gradual increase in political contacts with Western capitals
Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei took part in the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) and the Eastern Partnership member countries. Minsk has repeatedly emphasised its interest in pragmatic cooperation with European capitals. Amid lingering economic crisis, the Belarusian leadership has shown greater willingness to participate in the Eastern Partnership initiative. However, Minsk is rather interested in strengthening economic cooperation with the EU and gradually develop political contacts in order to avoid undue irritation in 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.