Belarusian president to raise retirement age regardless of public opinion
As of January 1st, 2017, retirement age will be raised in Belarus: for women to 58 years old and to 63 for men. The Belarusian authorities have decided to skip a broad public discussion of the retirement age issue as it was extremely unpopular initiative among the population. Despite statements by the Belarusian authorities that the majority of the population supported the increase, independent pollster IISEPS published poll results where only 20% of respondents supported the increase in the retirement age. The president was prompted to approve the unpopular increase in the retirement age before the parliamentary campaign. Pensioners are likely to reduce their support for the president due to lowered social protection for this age group.
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.