Minsk seeks to preserve positive dynamics in normalization with Western capitals
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei met with Ukrainian president Piotr Poroshenko and thanked him for assistance in improving relations with Europe. The Belarusian authorities are also working on organizing a visit of the Holy See head to Minsk, which could consolidate Lukashenka’s peacemaker reputation. Amid periodic conflicts between Minsk and Moscow, Belarusian-European relations remain conflict-free and friendly. The Belarusian government hopes to convert a thaw in political relations with the EU and the US into economic assistance from international organizations.
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.