President Lukashenko expects reciprocal moves from Europe
On May 24th, at a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Martynov, President Lukashenko said, that in a political conflict between Belarus and the European Union, “the ball is on the EU side”.
Belarusian President demonstrates that he is not going to fulfill the requirements put forward by the EU: to release and rehabilitate political prisoners and to change the Belarusian electoral legislation. The Belarusian government finds acceptable the way the recent diplomatic crisis has been resolved, and after the return of the EU Ambassadors to Minsk intends to maintain the status quo.
Therefore President Lukashenko demonstrates to the EU that further development of the Belarus-EU dialogue depends on Brussels. Simultaneously, Lukashenko intensified regional integration within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. In particular, during a meeting with FM Martynov he discussed reorganization of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry in order to improve international trade.
Belarusian leadership recons that Belarus’ economic attractiveness as an entry point to the regional trade corridor with its customs benefits will outweigh the EU’s political claims. Therefore, while speaking in Polotsk on May 25th, President Alexander Lukashenko has called Belarus “a gateway to Eurasia”, and urged to carefully assess all the opportunities for economic cooperation, opening for the countries in the region.
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.