Minsk may agree to change election rules
At a meeting with Belarusian Information Minister Lilia Ananich, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis fully supported dialogue between Belarus and the ODIHR on electoral issues. The president is ready to make changes to the electoral law, which would not compromise his leadership. Simultaneously, last month, the authorities issued warnings to two popular media resources registered in Belarus - Ezhednevnik and Nasha Niva. The Belarusian leadership is showing a willingness to negotiate and resolve Belarusian-European relations, however without major changes in domestic policies and without strengthening the role of the opposition.
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.