Sent: US will sanction those who undermine peace in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) — The United States remains committed to Bosnia and will continue to impose sanctions on individuals who engage in corruption and “sow divisions” in the Balkan nation, which has failed to never fully recovered from its brutal 1992-95 war, a senior US official said on Friday.

“For 26 years, the United States has supported the people (of Bosnia). Initially, then, through war, over this last quarter century through peace, and we stand with you now,” said Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Power, the first US official to visit the Balkan country after the US recently imposed new sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, added that further sanctions would come against others who engage in corruption and threaten to undermine the US-brokered peace deal for Bosnia. .

“We recognize the seriousness of the sanctions and the impact they have on individuals’ financial assets, movement and reputation,” she said. “On the question of whether the United States is considering more sanctions, the answer is yes.”

Power spoke after a three-day visit to Bosnia during which she met members of the country’s multi-ethnic presidency which, alongside Dodik, also includes a Bosnian official and a Croatian official.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced new sanctions against Dodik, who for years has advocated that the Serb-ruled part of Bosnia leave the rest of the country and unite with neighboring Serbia.

The Dayton Peace Accord ended the Bosnian war, which has killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless amid the worst carnage in Europe since World War II. The agreement established two separate government entities in Bosnia – one led by Bosnian Serbs and the other dominated by the country’s Bosniaks and Croats. The two are bound by shared statewide institutions, and all actions at the national level require the consensus of the three ethnic groups.

With the tacit support of Russia and Serbia, Dodik has recently stepped up his secessionist campaign, leading a Bosnian Serb strike from shared multi-ethnic institutions and promising that the Serbs would break away from central authority and form an army, a system separate Serbian judiciary and tax system. This raised fears in Bosnia and abroad of a return to war.

“President Dodik, in particular, has created a climate of tension, which is vulnerable to miscalculation and the risk of escalation,” Power said. “The United States is watching and (is) very, very concerned about the political crisis” in Bosnia.

Dodik, meanwhile, repeated after Friday’s meeting with Power that he and the Bosnian Serbs were being unfairly harassed by the United States and wrongly accused of corruption. He also indicated a certain willingness to consider the return of Serbian representatives to work in the institutions common to the whole country.

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