Meeting of the Political Council of the UCP
On 29 April Minsk hosted a meeting of the Political Council of the United Civil Party, which announced the launch of a nationwide campaign “Building new, preserving the best”: The meeting was chaired by the Chairman of the UCP Mr. Lebedko.
This event is a milestone for the UCP, a prominent opposition party in Belarus. Following the presidential campaign of 2010, at the end of which the party leader Lebedko was arrested and the behaviour of a presidential candidate and the Deputy Chairman of the UCP Mr. Romanchuk raised doubts about his future political career, the party had to hold a full session and decide on the future priorities.
The scope of future activities will be determined by the campaign “Building new, preserving the best”, setting up plans to elaborate political and economic development programmes for Belarus, and plans to engage in a dialogue with the authorities. The importance of the statements made during the meeting is that the UCP has no plans to coordinate its work with other political partners. It is rather predictable, given the previously existing logic of split up opposition, that in its new campaign the UCP openly set no priority for cooperation e.g. with the National Committee of Democratic Forces, or with the National Civil Society Forum.
It confirms the long-term trend of the opposition forces in Belarus, who find it more and more difficult to agree among them to represent a united front. The sequential increase in the number of candidates during the presidential elections since 2001 also confirms this trend
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.