Minsk demonstrates readiness for moratorium on death penalty if democratisation issues are taken off agenda
Last week, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland expressed deep regret over reports about yet another execution in Belarus. Minsk is attempting to shape a negotiating agenda with European capitals, which includes two major issues, the construction of the Belarusian NPP and a moratorium on the death penalty. After the execution, the Belarusian authorities demonstrated their readiness to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty. Last week, a death penalty discussion was held in the Belarusian Parliament with the participation of parliamentarians and foreign experts. Minsk aspires that western capitals relax their demand with regard to the Belarusian NPP, while Vilnius and Warsaw are opposing the construction. In addition, the Belarusian authorities aim to take democratisation issues off the agenda, as well as criticism over elections.
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.