Minsk not interested in full PACE membership
Last week, Chairman of the House of Representatives Vladimir Andreichenko said that Belarus had intensified her efforts to restore the special guest status in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Official Minsk is nevertheless unwilling to meet conditions for the restoration of the guest status in the PACE and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, hoping to confine to public debate on this issue. The Belarusian authorities are neither interested in full PACE membership, nor in implementing a number of political commitments. Belarus’ recognition of the jurisdiction of the Court of Human Rights is fraught with additional financial burden if Belarusians gain the right to file claims against the state. Restoring the special guest status in PACE, on the other hand, would significantly level up the Belarusian Parliament’s status on the international arena as a legitimate and democratically elected representative body and eventually would oust the opposition from the settlement process in Belarusian-European relations.
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.