Minsk hopes for Warsaw’s support in signing basic agreement with EU
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski will make an official visit to Minsk next week. Minsk hopes to expand pragmatic cooperation by offering Polish business an entry point to the Eurasian market. The Belarusian authorities also hope for Warsaw’s support in adopting the framework agreement between the EU and Belarus, re-inclusion in the EU general system of trade preferences and the WTO accession. Minsk has recently tried to avoid tension with the Polish minority, and looks forward to Warsaw softening its rhetoric on this issue. Besides traditional issues of economic cooperation the Belarusian authorities are likely to insist that Warsaw abandons its attempts to influence domestic political situation in Belarus, ie to support the Belarusian opposition and independent media, the largest of which broadcast from Poland (BelSAT, radio Racyja).
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.