Belarusian government avoids disorienting state apparatus over intended economic reforms
The Belarusian government is unlikely to reform the existing socio-economic model in the near future, regardless of the growing pressure from the population. A significant part of the state apparatus is not ready to reduce the state's role in the economy and to change social policies. The president is attempting to achieve a consensus in the government regarding socio-economic reforms.
In his address to the outgoing MPs, President Lukashenka emphasised that the opposition wanted to destroy the existing state structure and to hold reforms in their vested interests.
President Lukashenka said that the vertical of power was monolithic and that there were no discrepancies among public officials about the country’s further development. Apparently, the president is attempting to shape a consensus among officials regarding the further development of the economy’s state sector. That said, the president attempted to reassure the part of the state apparatus and state managers who were cautious about the privatisation, and noted that traditional approaches to denationalisation would be preserved.
Meanwhile, in fact, the President has recognised the growing popularity of socio-economic reforms in society. However, he seeks to shift the responsibility for possible negative consequences of socio-economic reforms from the authorities. Yet the authorities do not feel enough pressure from the population to carry out reforms.
Apparently, part of the state apparatus regards proposals by the opposition parties as reasonable, which prompts the leadership to reiterate the usual rhetoric about threats to officials from the opposition. It is worth noting that recently, neither oppositional candidates during the parliamentary elections nor a single political party appealed to lustration. In addition, the opposition issue has returned to the official discourse, which reflects the growth in popularity of the opposition parties among the population.
Nonetheless, the Belarusian government would be prompted to introduce some adjustments to the existing socio-economic model, despite the reluctance of the senior management.
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.