Transparency of Belarusian-Russian border is in question
Russo-Belarusian border control and security issues could cause tension in bilateral relations. For a while, the situation was under control at the very top, but last month, the existing tension was disclosed to the population.
In an interview with the Russian TV channel last week, Alexander Lukashenka expressed extreme discontent with Russia for deploying border controls at the Belarusian-Russian border. On July 27th, 2017, the situation at the Russo-Belarusian border was discussed during Lukashenka’s meeting with the Belarusian Security Council heads.
So far, the Belarusian authorities have refrained from publicly elaborating their claims to their Russian counterparts. However, it is only a matter of time. Minsk can no longer disregard the situation, especially taking into account the fact that Russian border guards have taken control not only of the main transport routes between the two states, but also of the green border. The Belarusian authorities have to respond to that. Yet while Russia organizes a border security system with Belarus, Minsk has the opportunity to put forward proposals, which would satisfy Moscow in terms of reliability of the border control with Belarus and at the same time enable to retain high transparency levels.
Moscow is consistently lowering the status of the Belarusian-Russian relations. This has been a long-term trend, which has an impact on various spheres of bilateral relations, including security issues and border security. Taking into account the organizational efforts and costs undertaken by Russia to deploy the border guard system with Belarus, a U-turn is hardly an option. The Belarusian-Russian border is likely to acquire the features of a full-fledged interstate border, including various control mechanisms, in future.
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.