Belarusian state is not interested in supporting unemployed
Minister of Labour and Social Protection Marianna Shchetkina told lawmakers that unemployment benefits would not increase in Belarus in the near future. It should be noted, that strengthening social protection for the most vulnerable parts of society was one of the proposals within the new stand-by programme for structural reforms elaborated jointly with the IMF. Higher unemployment benefits may lead to a substantial increase in official unemployment rates and, accordingly, to additional budgetary costs. If tension in society increases due to growing unemployment rates, the state might review and mitigate some provisions of the controversial decree on social dependents (parasites).
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.