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Minsk wants to avoid taking sides in West-Russia confrontation over Ukraine events

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April 22, 2016 18:49

President Lukashenko has had a telephone conversation with Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk about international developments related to the events in Ukraine. However, official information about the conversation promptly disappeared from the BELTA and Interfax-West news agencies’ websites. Despite Belarus’ attempts to find a balanced approach and not to spoil its relations with the new Ukrainian authorities, Belarus’ position regarding events in Ukraine is forming under the pressure of, and in line with, the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The Belarusian president’s talks with the Polish Prime Minister may be perceived by the Kremlin as an attempt to escape from the defined framework, which could narrow Belarus’ room for manoeuvre. The Belarusian government is not willing to become involved in a confrontation between the West and Russia over the events in South-East Ukraine.

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Image: Catholic.by

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.

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