Belarus’ entrepreneurs not ready to defend their interests
According to decree No 222, as of July 1stprivate entrepreneurs are prohibited to trade without a certificate and accompanying documents. The introduced certification will hinder the work of individual entrepreneurs and might reformat the SME market, potentially meaning that the majority of entrepreneurs will withdraw. There are several entrepreneurial associations and trade unions in Belarus, but their actions are largely uncoordinated and localised in several large cities. Apart from some protest initiatives – mainly strikes and non-payment of taxes – SMEs will not demonstrate serious resistance to the state restricting their interests. Also, they will avoid politicising their protest activity or coordinating their actions with the opposition.
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.