Minsk responded with "understanding" to extension of sanctions against Belarusian leadership by Obama
US President Barack Obama extended sanctions against Belarusian officials imposed in 2006 by his predecessor George W. Bush for another year. Most likely, official Minsk was expecting the Washington’s decision to extend the sanctions. The Foreign Ministry discretely responded to this decision and noted the positive trends in bilateral relations between Belarus and the USA in recent years. Official Minsk is quite satisfied with the pace diplomatic contacts are developing with Washington and with the ability to impose cooperation in specific areas. The Belarusian authorities aspire that Belarus-US bilateral relations would gradually normalise and enhance after the presidential campaign in Belarus.
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.