Kremlin is ready to provide limited financial assistance to Minsk
Whether the EurAsEC’s Anti-Crisis Fund Council allocates the final USD 400 million tranche to Belarus will be decided in late 2014.
The official reason for the delay is the lack of harmonization of all issues, although earlier, Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov suggested that Belarus could receive the sixth tranche within the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund’s loan in September-October 2014. In June 2014 Belarus received a substantial USD 2 billion loan from Russia’s VTB Bank, which helped her to safeguard the international reserves and to postpone the national currency’s devaluation. The Kremlin’s financial aid to Belarus is just enough to maintain some socio-economic stability in the country, but insufficient to support economic growth and improve people’s well-being. In the future, Russia will preserve this approach to dealing with Belarus and will put forward harsher requirements for Belarus to privatise her large assets.
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.