Kremlin helps normalising relations of Belarus with West
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that non-presence of President Lukashenka in Moscow on May 9th was not politically motivated, especially, given that Belarusian troops will take part in the Victory Day parade. Earlier, the president said that he would not be present in Moscow on the Victory Day parade on the Red Square, but would take part in some events on the eve of May 9th. Indeed, in response to Lukashenka’s refusal to attend the parade in Moscow on May 9th, relatively mild comments by the Kremlin media have followed. In Belarus, the population and opposition activists have welcomed his decision. In addition, President Lukashenka has received positive reviews in the western media as a politician, who demonstrated independence from the Kremlin. The Belarusian government is trying to anchor Minsk as a neutral negotiation platform, which has an acceptable level of autonomy from the Kremlin.
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.