Official Minsk expects Kyiv’s help in normalising Belarus-EU relationship
The Ambassador of Belarus in Ukraine, Valentin Velichko, stated in an interview with the annual scientific journal “Dyplomatic Ukraine” that Belarus supports Ukraine as an integral unitary state within its current constitution which excludes the possibility of federalisation.
Official Minsk is interested in deescalating the situation in the eastern part of Ukraine and settling the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, as well as softening the conflict between the Kremlin and the West which, aside from instability in the region, has already led to negative consequences for the Belarusian economy in the year of the presidential elections. Aside from profitable economic cooperation, the Belarusian authorities hope to normalise their relationship with the European Union with the help of official Kyiv, especially before the May summit of the Eastern Partnership in Riga.
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.