State is ready to cut social spending in election year
The Belarusian authorities propose to save BYR 300 billion by making day nurseries for toddlers up to 3 years old and kindergarten groups for children who are over 6 years old paid services. In the year of presidential elections the state is unable to guarantee the same social benefits for the population and continues revising the social contract in the face of languishing budget. The Belarusian authorities prefer budget cuts in the most vulnerable spheres - education and healthcare - to structural economic reforms. Meanwhile, government officials do not stop talking about ’socially oriented’ state.
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.