Tusk as EU head will mean more attention to Belarus from Brussels, predict Belarus’ authorities and opposition
President Alexander Lukashenko congratulated Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on his election as President of the European Council.
The Belarusian authorities believe that Tusk’s appointment will enhance Polish influence on the EU foreign policy towards Belarus, which is undergoing a transformation – from dishing out harsh sanctions, to finding opportunities for a dialogue amid a growing security threat in the East European region from the Kremlin. The Belarusian opposition hopes that Tusk as EC President will increase the EU’s attention towards Belarus, including boosting support for civil society and greater attention to security in the East European region.
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.