No mass lay-offs in Belarus until presidential elections
At the meeting with Labour and Social Protection Minister Marianna Shchetkina, the president said that the main task of large industrial enterprises was to preserve employment. Lay-offs is one of the key means to improve efficiency at state enterprises and increase their competitiveness within the existing economic model in Belarus. The state enterprises were willing to fulfil the government requirements and reduce employment in order to relieve excessive burden on their budgets. However, such steps may lead to increased social tension in society, which is unacceptable in the election year. The president therefore ordered the enterprises not to hold mass lay-offs until the presidential elections.
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.