Myasnikovich is lobbying Russian interests
On the eve of President Lukashenko’s urgent visit to Sochi, Prime Minister Myasnikovich entered the Belarusian-Russian negotiations on Moscow’s side. Nevertheless, it was hardly the PM’s initiative: privatization and investment issues are entirely under the President’s control.
On September 14th, Prime Minister Myasnikovich said that in 2013, Belarus will give priority to Russian investors while implementing the National Investment Programme for at least USD 4.5 billion
Such a frank statement by Myasnikovich before Lukashenko’s visit to Sochi on 15 September,- a visit of great importance for the Belarusian economy - was yet another move in the complex Belarusian-Russian negotiations. It is highly unlikely that Myasnikovich did not agree his statement with the President in advance: otherwise he would be looking at near retirement. Myasnikovich’s statement allows Minsk to make promises without obligations, exercising “good faith”.
With the acute financial situation, and the final stages of the elections campaign in sight, President Lukashenko was forced to make a difficult decision in Russia’s favour. The situation is similar to the one before the elections in 2010, when he signed the agreements on the Common Economic Space.
It is likely that this time round, the decision will be to transfer control over the Belarusian Potash Company to the Russian company “Uralkali”. In particular, on September 13th, Belarusian state TV Channel broadcasted a show about privatization, with obsessive visuals from the “Belaruskali” mines. Also as a result of negotiations for a new potash trader “Soyuzkaly”, Russia will get to own the majority of stakes.
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.