Belarusian opposition declares consolidation
On 29 June in Minsk representatives of six opposition parties and democratic movements have signed an agreement on conditions of participation in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.
They have put forward demands to the authorities: to release political prisoners and guarantee free elections. The agreement was signed by the leaders of UCP, BChD, BPF, “Fair World” party, “For Freedom” movement and “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign.
On the one hand, the Belarusian opposition demonstrates consistency in the coordination of their positions and step by step approach to forming a consolidated view on key policy issues: resolution of political crisis after 19 December and the Parliamentary elections of 2012. The most topical issues include the release of political prisoners and a likely boycott of the Parliamentary elections, depending on the reaction of the authorities.
However, this event should be regarded as tactical rather than strategic step. Regardless of the obvious progress in the rapprochement of positions, representatives of political parties and movements emphasize that the signed document is an agreement, not an action programme. Also a joint statement by the leaders of political parties and movements should not be considered as establishment of a new coalition.
Therefore the agreement has no “added value” in political sense and represents yet another formal document, repeatedly voicing usual claims to the Belarusian authorities. The more so, one of the signatories of the agreement, the leader of the “Fair World” Party Mr. Kalyakin talked previously at the party congress about the Party’s participation in the Parliamentary elections on condition of democratization of the electoral system.
In the first place, the agreement is not addressed to the authorities, rather to other democratic partners and represents a „trial balloon”. Its main objective is to test the grounds for potential future coalitions. At the same time, optional and tactical nature of the agreement provides a strong reason to doubt that it will be signed by new parties.
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.