State Awards Policy as Stability Factor for Authorities
On February 1st, President Lukashenko conferred state awards to representatives of industry, construction, civil servants, law enforcement, military, athletes, cultural and art workers.
Regular state awards ceremony is an additional tool to ensure loyalty to the country’s supreme leadership. The Belarusian state awards policy clearly demonstrates President Lukashenko’s priorities: the focus is on the law enforcement agencies’ officials.
The award ceremony held by Alexander Lukashenko on February 1st, was the third in 2013. These awards’ characteristic feature is President’s increased attention to the Law Enforcement agencies: of 246 awarded in 2013, 215 persons (87%) represented various Belarus’ law enforcement agencies.
The same trend can be observed over a longer period of time. Among the awarded in 2012, the vast majority were law enforcement officers – over 80%. Most frequently issued state decoration in Belarus is the medal “For Distinguished Service” of III degree.
Regular award ceremony held by President to decorate security officials should be considered as one of the tools to ensure their loyalty to the President. In turn, regular ceremonial meetings attended by the president enable the Belarusian power elite to attend additional gatherings to harmonize their interests, which, in turn, are a prerequisite for the stability of the state power in Belarus.
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.