2016: Relaxed political monopoly amid retained micromanagement
Most important trends in 2016:
- Political liberalisation continued after the elections, breaking political conventions
- Opposition’s attitudes evolved from non-compromising to constructive
- Conflicts built up in the nomenclature; the law enforcement enhanced involvement in the fight among nomenclature groups
- The Russo-Belarusian dispute evolved into a chronic crisis, with fewer economic benefits from cooperation with Russia
- Belarus’ relations with the West normalised
- The authorities revised ideology and media mechanisms
- Status quo in the economic policy retained with half-hearted and inconsistent decisions on economic reforms
- The national currency stabilised; loans became cheaper; amid corporate debt build-up, corporate lending and lending for housing construction reduced, and the quality of banks' assets deteriorated
- Job cuts in the economy continued, tariffs for public services went up while the state preserved its share in the GDP
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.