Minsk hopes for approval of Lukashenko’s visit to Vatican
At a press conference in Minsk, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that President Lukashenko’s visit to Vatican was possible and underscored that the Holy See was prepared for the visit. While in Minsk, the Holy See Cardinal met with President Lukashenko, Foreign Minister Makey, and Head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Pavel. The Belarusian authorities repeat their actions from the ‘thaw’ in Belarus-EU relations in 2008-2010, however the new cycle of normalisation with Brussels might start with a visit to the Vatican without fulfilling the basic EU requirement – release of remaining political prisoners before completing the 2015 presidential campaign. The Belarusian authorities are interested in developing relations with the EU after the 2015 presidential campaign; they will attempt therefore to preserve a moderate level of repression against the opposition.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.