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Minsk expects long-term effects from Sino-Belarusian cooperation

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April 22, 2016 19:26

Before leaving for Beijing, President Lukashenka signed the Directive No 5 about the development of bilateral relations with China. So far, the trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and China has failed to bring the anticipated results and Chinese exporters gain the most benefits from it. Belarus still has a negative trade balance with China. However, official Minsk counts on contacts with China in order to balance the pressure from the Kremlin and to compensate for the absence of full-fledged relations with Western capitals, especially during the presidential campaign. The Belarusian government is anticipating developing Sino-Belarusian relations today, so that the Belarusian economy will have gained benefits in the long-term.

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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.

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