Minsk proposed economic cooperation to Warsaw for giving up Belsat funding
The Polish Foreign Ministry has abolished the agreement on the establishment of "Belsat", but promised help with finding donors. Contradictory statements by the Polish authorities and Belsat management about future funding mislead the Belarusian society and reduce support for the channel. In turn, the Belarusian authorities show willingness to engage in a dialogue on improved access of Polish business to the Belarusian and Eurasian market, and on complex bilateral issues. The Belarusian authorities may ease pressure on unregistered Polish minority organisations, but are unlikely to legalise their activities in order to retain a pressure lever on Warsaw. In addition, the authorities may agree to the broadcast of Polonia TV Channel in Belarus, which does not criticise the Belarusian authorities and has limited potential audience.
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.