Minsk is engaging in "multi-speed integration" with Baltic states
The head of the Estonian parliamentary delegation, who visited Minsk last week, spoke about the policy of openness in relations with Belarus. Estonia does not regard Belarus as a threat to regional security. Estonian and Latvian policies and statements radically differ from the confrontational relations between Lithuania and Belarus. Due to the difference in the attitudes of the Baltic states towards sensitive issues in relations with Belarus, i.e. the Nuclear Power Plant construction in Astravets and military cooperation between Belarus and Russia, the Belarusian authorities feel more confident in shaping their regional policy.
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.