No concessions from Minsk in the ‘dairy war’
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev supported Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich’s initiative to launch an anti-dumping examination against Belarus on the dairy market.
In a way, it was the Kremlin’s reaction to the delayed privatisation of large Belarusian assets for the Russian capital’s benefit by President Lukahenko. Amid falling exports of industrial products, Belarus’ dairy exports to Russia grew in 2013 and made up a substantial part of the state budget revenues. If a ‘dairy war’ unfolds, Belarus will not yield to the pressure from Russia, because Lukashenko counts on President Vladimir Putin’s support within the Eurasian integration project.
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.