Industrial modernisation poses new challenges
Workers at Gomeloboi factory [Gomel Wallpaper factory] have filed a complaint to the regional head and to the Presidential Administration about overloaded warehouses at the enterprise and its negative impact.
Recently, the factory underwent modernisation and purchased two costly production lines for vinyl wallpaper. In 2013 President Lukashenko launched a large-scale modernisation process (which de facto means replacing obsolete equipment with modern equivalents), which has not resulted in any economic improvements. Ahead of the presidential elections in 2015, the Belarusian authorities will increasingly resort to manual steering of the economy, without considering structural economic reforms, and will hold the heads of industrial enterprises responsible for social issues arising from the derailed modernisation in the country.
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.