Belarusian authorities disregard "sensitive" requirements in Bologna Process Roadmap
Last week, the Public Bologna Committee issued a statement, saying that Belarus had stepped up attack on academic freedoms and the rights of the academic community. In response to the recent initiative of the Belarusian State University students against the introduction of fees for retaking exams, the university administration has tightened its internal rules and put pressure on most active participants of the campaign – instead of engaging in a dialogue with the student community. The main reason behind Belarus’ participation in the Bologna process is to enhance attractiveness of Belarusian diplomas for students from the third world countries and to gain additional proceeds from exporting educational services. The authorities are unlikely to implement some of the most ‘sensitive’ requirements from the Roadmap for a full-fledged membership in the Bologna process, i.e. carrying out structural reforms in higher education and changing the situation with the student self-government and academic freedoms.
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.