Eurasian integration: ‘more for less’
Belarus considers the issue of oil product export duties as ‘decided’, following the decision of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board adopted in summer 2013.
Back then, the parties endorsed an agreement to remove such exemptions. However, abolishing export duty payments does not guarantee that Belarus will receive the desired budget revenues, because Russia has adopted compensatory measures to replenish her budget. Meanwhile, in economic and political terms, new Russian subsidies will be more costly for Belarus than before. Nevertheless, President Lukashenko may bargain additional resources from Russia to hold the 2015 presidential campaign.
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.