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Minsk expects to draw Lithuania into dialogue on nuclear power, but without significant concessions

April 22, 2016 19:44

Lithuania and Belarus have clashed again over the evaluation of the nuclear power plant construction in Belarusian Ostovec. The Lithuanian authorities referred to the lack of information about the construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets and threatened to block the electricity supply to the European market. In turn, the Belarusian authorities sought to soften the attitude of the Lithuanian side regarding the Belarusian NPP construction due to the plans to export electricity to the Baltic countries and Poland. Belarus is expecting electricity surplus already in 2018, after the first reactor’s commissioning. Minsk anticipates to neutralize Vilnius by engaging in a dialogue. In addition, there is no consolidated position regarding the NPP construction in Belarus in the Baltic Sea basin countries, in particular, Finland took a different stance on it.

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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.