Minsk to use Tbilisi’s assistance to preserve dynamics in Belarusian-European normalisation
Last week, President Lukashenka held tet-a-tet talks with Georgia President Giorgi Margvelashvili and an expanded meeting with all delegation members. Minsk is attempting to improve political contacts with Tbilisi; it regards Georgia as an advocate in the Belarusian-European normalisation, which is beginning to stagnate. In exchange, Minsk once again assured Tbilisi of its readiness to provide access to the EEU market for Georgian products. Domestically, the meeting between the Belarusian and Georgian presidents should have blended the negative background of the president’s failed trip to Sochi.
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.