UK announces sanctions against Bosnian-Serb politicians for ‘undermining peace’

Liz Truss said that with these ‘tough sanctions we are showing that the enemies of peace will be held to account’.

11 April 2022

The UK Government has announced sanctions against Bosnian-Serb politicians Milorad Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic for “deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Emboldened by Russia’s undermining of the international rules-based system, the Foreign Office said the pair have used their positions of authority to push for de-facto secession of Republika Srpska – one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two entities – in direct contravention of the country’s constitution.

The designations, which include travel bans and asset freezes, are the first under the UK’s Bosnia and Herzegovina sanctions regime.

Mr Dodik, a Bosnian-Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state-level presidency, has driven action to withdraw Republika Srpska from key state institutions, using “divisive, dangerous, nationalist rhetoric”, undermining domestic and regional peace and encouraging ethnic hatred and genocide denial, the Foreign Office said.

Meanwhile, in October 2021, Ms Cvijanovic, president of the entity of Republika Srpska, used her office to table legislation seeking to transfer state competencies to the entity level.

Ms Cvijanovic has also publicly glorified war criminals and denied the genocide at Srebrenica, the Foreign Office said.

Working in coordination with the US and other partners, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she hopes other nations will apply similar restrictive measures.

Ms Truss said: “These two politicians are deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Encouraged by Putin, their reckless behaviour threatens stability and security across the western Balkans.

“With these tough sanctions we are showing that the enemies of peace will be held to account.”

The US imposed new sanctions on Mr Dodik in January after accusing him of “corrupt activities” that threaten to destabilise the region and undermine the US-brokered Dayton Peace Accord.

Mr Dodik said he and Bosnian Serbs are being unfairly targeted and wrongly accused of corruption.

The agreement in 1995 ended the war in Bosnia, which killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

The accord established two separate governing entities in Bosnia — Republika Srpska run by Bosnia’s Serbs, and another dominated by Bosniaks, an ethnic group that is primarily Muslim, and Croats.

The two are linked by shared, state-wide institutions, and all actions at a national level require consensus from all three ethnic groups.

Russia has pledged support for Mr Dodik and his associates.

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