2017: System updates will continue. Main threats.
- The conflict between Minsk and Moscow is likely to build up; Russia may increase the price of support for the Belarusian economy, including the squeeze on the Belarusian leadership over visa, economic (privatisation) and currency issues
- The power block may strengthen positions in the Belarusian government, and different nomenclature groups are likely to step up the struggle for administrative rent
- The Belarusian authorities may be tempted to resume populist policies before important political events and inject liquidity to boost household incomes
- Amid falling household incomes and cutbacks in social protection programmes, latent tension in the Belarusian society is likely to grow; spontaneous protests are possible
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.