WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration on Wednesday announced sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, accusing him of “corrupt activities” that threaten to destabilize the region and undermine a peace deal brokered by the states- United over 25 years ago.
The Treasury Department also alleged that Dodik used his leadership position to accumulate wealth through bribery and bribery, including providing government contracts and monopolies to business partners.
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The practical impact of the actions of the Biden administration is that any property or interest owned by Dodik in the United States is now blocked and must be reported. Also on Wednesday, the State Department accused a current and a former senior official in Bosnia and Herzegovina of corruption, with designations preventing them from entering the United States.
“Together, these designations reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rule of law and democratic institutions, and a better future for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, using the abbreviation of Bosnia. and Herzegovina.
Dodik, a member of the Bosnian tripartite presidency which also includes a Bosnian and Croatian official, has for years advocated the separation of the semi-autonomous Bosnian Serb mini-state from Bosnia and its integration into neighboring Serbia.
It would be a violation of the Dayton Accords, the 1995 US-sponsored peace deal that ended the bloody civil war in Bosnia, which killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless. in the worst carnage in Europe since WWII. The agreement established two separate governing entities in Bosnia – one led by the Bosnian Serbs and the other dominated by the Bosnians and Croats in the country.
The two entities are linked by common institutions, and all actions undertaken at the national level must be achieved by consensus of the three ethnic groups.
With tacit support from Russia and Serbia, Dodik recently stepped up his secessionist campaign, pledging to separate from Bosnia’s cowardly central authority and form a Bosnian army, judiciary and fiscal system.
Bosnian officials have warned that Dodik’s policies could lead to clashes and called on the US and the EU to crack down on him and his associates.
The United States has already imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on Dodik, and US and German officials recently threatened new sanctions in case the Bosnian Serbs further weaken Bosnia’s central institutions.
Dodik has repeatedly said he does not care about the new sanctions, adding that it would bring Serbs even closer to their “real friends” – Russia and China. He also denied that the withdrawal of central institutions was contrary to the Dayton peace agreement and would lead to rapid secession or a new war.
Anticipating further sanctions, Dodik said on Wednesday he was not worried because he will not be visiting the United States anytime soon.
“These are their sanctions, not ours. It is not the Holy Scriptures, ”said Dodik. “I have no intention of applying for a visa for America even though my sanctions are lifted tomorrow.”
The main international representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, said on Wednesday in a written statement that the new US sanctions against Dodik were “a logical consequence of the destructive and dangerous attitude in reference to his failure to meet the basic demands of leadership. responsible”.
Schmidt added that Dodik “must answer many uncomfortable questions and should return to reasonable and responsible actions without violating the state’s constitution and the rule of law.”
The United States has also named a media outlet, Alternativna Televizija doo Banja Luka, which it claims is owned by a company linked to Dodik’s family. The administration claims Dodik acquired the organization to advance its own agenda and exercises behind-the-scenes control over its content, including demanding approval of politically sensitive stories.
The other two officials appointed by the State Department are Milan Tegeltija, the former head of the Supreme Judicial and Prosecutor’s Council, which appoints, dismisses and supervises the work of all judges and prosecutors in the country, and the representative of Parliamentary Assembly Mirsad Kukic.