Myasnikovich visits Azerbaijan
On 7-8 July a governmental delegation headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich paid an official visit to Azerbaijan. During the visit the Prime Minister met with President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade, inter alia with other officials and business representatives.
The Belarusian government and Prime Minister Myasnikovich continue gaining political weight and effectively assumed the functions of the Foreign Ministry. Each new foreign visit, organized by a team of Myasnikovich, serves to improve the international confidence in the government, which is carefully transformed into a major center of the country’s negotiations with the East. Bearing in mind the fact that Belarus hopes to come out of financial crisis with the assistance of foreign financial aid, the improvement of international credibility will result in increased domestic political impact of the Prime Minister’s new team.
While organizing the visit to Azerbaijan, press service of the government has particularly emphasized that the visit was taking place following an invitation of the Azerbaijani side, thereby the PM team sets off its bargaining authority against the Administration. The development of the Eastern policy by the government is a particularly positive move against the background of the de facto international isolation of Lukashenko and of his closest colleagues in the Presidential Administration. Development of the Eastern policy is virtually the only available direction, given visa ban on the majority of them.
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.