Minsk uses international organizations to soften Vilnius position on Belarusian NPP construction
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said that Lithuania was doing everything to compromise the IAEA SEED mission and its conclusions regarding the NPP in Astravets. The EU, including the Baltic States, lacks a consolidated position about the Belarusian NPP, which strengthens Minsk’s negotiating position in the dispute with Vilnius. Simultaneously, the Belarusian authorities hope to engage in an interstate dialogue with Lithuania in order to reverse public opinion in Lithuania about the NPP in Astravets. Minsk is willing to develop closer cooperation with international organisations in the nuclear industry in order to demonstrate its openness. In addition, the Belarusian authorities reckon that international organisations could help blocking unfavourable decisions by the EU in respect of the Belarusian NPP.
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.