Jan 5, 2022 - World

U.S. sanctions Bosnian Serb leader for secessionist threats

Milorad Dodik

Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has sanctioned Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for his "corrupt activities and continued threats to the stability and territorial integrity" of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international community's top representative in Bosnia warned in November that Dodik's secessionist maneuvers threatened to break apart the Balkan country and destroy the fragile peace that has held since 1995.

Details: In addition to Treasury's economic sanctions against Dodik and a media outlet he controls, the State Department announced visa bans against several other Bosnian Serb officials for their involvement in "significant corruption."

The big picture: The end of the Bosnian war was marked by the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which established two regional entities in Bosnia — the Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked by a central government.

  • Dodik, the Serbian member of the country's tripartite presidency, has threatened to withdraw the Republika Srpska from national institutions, including the central tax authority, top judicial institution, and — most critically — the armed forces, in order to reconstitute a Bosnian Serb army.
  • Christian Schmidt, the UN's high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the maneuvers were "tantamount to secession without proclaiming it" — and pose the "greatest existential threat" Bosnia has faced in the post-war period.

What they're saying: "Milorad Dodik’s destabilizing corrupt activities and attempts to dismantle the Dayton Peace Accords, motivated by his own self-interest, threaten the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region," the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Between the lines: The European Union has been unable to agree on its own sanctions against Dodik due in part to the opposition of Hungary's far-right government. Dodik has also touted support from fellow illiberal leaders in Serbia and Russia.

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