US sanctions top Bosnian Serb officials

US sanctions top Bosnian Serb officials
Member of the Bosnian presidency Zeljka Cvijanovic and Republika Srpska PM Radovan Viskovic among those sanctioned for undermining the agreements that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war. / bne IntelliNews
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest August 1, 2023

The United States on July 31 imposed economic sanctions against four officials from Republika Srpska, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Serb entity, accused of undermining the 1995 agreements that ended the war in the former Yugoslavia through a recently passed law, US Treasury announced.

The sanctions announced on July 31 target Republika Srpska National Assembly president Nenad Stevandic, Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, Justice Minister Milos Bukejlovic and Zeljka Cvijanovic, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.

The four officials targeted by the US "bear responsibility for encouraging the adoption of this legislation that threatens the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement" that ended the 1992-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

“This action threatens the stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the hard-won peace underpinned by the Dayton Peace Agreement. This behaviour further threatens the country’s future trajectory and successful integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik signed on July 7 a law that purports to declare the decisions of the Bosnian Constitutional Court inapplicable in the Republika Srpska, thus obstructing and threatening the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. 

After the Republika Srpska National Assembly passed the law in June 2023, the international community’s high representative in Bosnia exercised his authority on July 1 to nullify the legislation, publicly condemning the law as undermining the regional constitutional order, rule of law, and the division of powers.

The high representative has special powers allowing him to intervene in Bosnian legislation and political life in cases that violate the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Western countries, including the United States, had also voiced opposition to the controversial law promulgated by Dodik on July 7, worried that tensions could escalate further in the Balkan country.

Economic sanctions against Dodik, who is close to the Kremlin, have already been imposed by Washington in 2017 and 2022 for his measures obstructing the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

Under the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia was divided into two: a Serbian entity — Republika Srpska — and a Croatian-Muslim federation.