International reserves would grow if Belarus secured additional loans
According to the National Bank, Belarus' foreign currency reserves as of September 1st, 2017 totalled USD 6.99 billion and grew by USD 2 billion in January – August 2017. Belarus’ international reserves have grown due to numerous borrowings on foreign markets. In January -July 2017, Belarus raised USD 2 572 million in foreign loans. In addition, Belarus anticipates a USD 700 million interstate loan from Russia to repay her international liabilities. The Finance Ministry and the National Bank are likely to continue to borrow on the domestic market, net sales of foreign currency by the population are likely to decrease, and Belarus could earn additional currency from reselling Russian oil and keeping the export duty. Belarus’ proceeds from international trade are unlikely to cover all the needs to service her public debt. Belarus’ international reserves’ volume would depend on the agreement to refinance her public debt or new loan agreements.
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.