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UK announces its first own sanctions against Bosnian Serb separatists

29th Apr 2022
UK announces its first own sanctions against Bosnian Serb separatists

Milorad Dodike Bosnian Serb member of the country’s Tripartite Presidency Council has been sanctioned with a travel ban and his assets seized (Credit: kremlin.ru)

Hamed Chapman

The British Government has imposed sanctions against two Bosnian Serb leaders for undermining peace and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the wider Balkans region.

Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the country’s Tripartite Presidency Council, and Željka Cvijanović, President of the Serb entity Republika Srpska, have both been sanctioned with travel bans and seized assets for their destabilizing activities in recent months.

“These two politicians are deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Encouraged by (Russian President) Putin, their reckless behaviour threatens stability and security across the Western Balkans,” Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said in a statement.

“With these tough sanctions we are showing that the enemies of peace will be held to account,” said Truss, hoping that working in coordination with the US and other like-minded partners, the announcement will encourage other nations to apply similar restrictive measures which hold politicians to account for their destabilising and dangerous behaviour.

The sanctions are the first since Brexit imposed by the UK under the Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations passed in 2020 and follows the extensive use of sanctions against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

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

According to Downing Street, Dodik has threatened to withdraw Republika Srpska from key state institutions in BiH and has increased the use of divisive, dangerous, and ultra-nationalist rhetoric that undermines the peace and stability established after the violent conflict that followed Yugoslavia’s breakup 30 years ago.

Cvijanović was said to have exploited her office and position to table legislation in the Serb entity. This would transfer state powers and laws to Republika Srpska, a move that would violate the Constitution and threaten to further divide the country. She has also publicly glorified Serbian war criminals while denying the genocide at Srebrenica.

A General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Agreement) was signed in 1995, which brought an end to the conflict. Under Annex 4 of the agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution states that the country shall consist of two entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska.

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