Minsk wants to avoid being drawn into process of freezing conflict in Ukraine
Denis Pushilin, the DNI representatives in the trilateral contact group negotiations in Minsk said that representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic were ready to come Minsk for negotiations with the Ukrainian authorities. Official Minsk evasively commented on the possibility of holding the group-s next meeting in Minsk, which could be connected with the negative reaction in Kyiv to this initiative by pro-Russian separatists and the ceasefire breakdown. By providing negotiation platform the Belarusian leadership has already managed to boost its importance in ensuring regional security and begin the process of normalisation in Belarus-EU/US relations. However, the Belarusian authorities do not want to share the responsibility if the conflict becomes a frozen one with paramilitary pro-Russian enclaves in eastern Ukraine (which is what pro-Russian separatists want).
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.