Civil society says EHU as Belarusian public project is in crisis
Belarusian civil society representatives and students of European Humanities University (Belarusian University in exile in Lithuania) have expressed doubts about the fairness of EHU rector elections, which resulted in American professor David Pollick becoming the new rector. Three Belarusians and three Americans competed for the rector’s position at the EHU. Belarusian civil society and academic community had hoped the EHU would remain a social project, an alternative to the current Belarusian higher education system, and an important player in shaping Belarus’ national identity. The new rector is attempting to relieve tension between management, union workers and EHU students. In particular, he said, that the Belarusian component would be preserved in the EHU, however, had not yet presented a strategy for the university’s further development. Belarusian society representatives have concerns about American professor’s independency and ability to suggest a policy that would resolve internal crisis at the EHU.
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.