Explaining EU sanctions policy: case of Belarus



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Tartu Ülikool


In the past decades, the EU has made extensive use of targeted or "smart" sanctions to achieve its policy objectives. Their goal is not to penalize, however, to modify their behavior or policies. The thesis reveals patterns in EU sanctions on Belarus, as well as notable changes over time, from 1996 to the present, when the EU increased and decreased sanctions against Belarus. The goal of research is firstly to explain the patters of EU sanctions policy towards Belarus, as it has evolved over time, secondly to account for the logic of interest-based and value-based explanations, when/why/under what circumstances it anticipates the EU to apply sanctions. By writing the given master's thesis, this work fills a gap in past research on this topic, as there are not sufficient research investigating the EU sanctions regime on Belarus response to new change and timeframe analysis. To explain this pattern, in the study the previous explanation of EU sanctions policy will be analyzed, which focused on human rights infractions. The latter by indicating areas of interest. It allows to summarize whether EU sanctions on Belarus were driven primarily by values (human rights concerns) or interests. More broadly, it enables to determine under what conditions the EU promotes a value-based approach, particularly when geopolitical interests are absent. Importantly, to give an in-depth examination of interests, as well as how geopolitical interests condition the EU's reaction to human rights abuses through sanctions. The study is based on theory-testing and considered as theoretical study research, which prolongs the literature on the EU sanctions regime on Belarus study over time (1996-present). It balances qualitative research with a close examination of official documents and specific reports, applying document analysis. It is also worth to highlight in the study the corresponding changes for each time period by matching changes in HR situation and the EU sanctions policy. It examines the comparison of the consistency or inconsistency of EU sanctions policy towards Belarus across time to evaluate the relative significance of values and interests. This finding suggests that ultimately, EU sanctions policy is driven by a combination of values and interests, whereby interests condition whether the EU responds to HR violations or not. As a consequence, the study argues by presenting the patterns of EU sanctions policy and analyzing whether the EU's stance is driven by value or interest.