US sanctions Bosnian president, official for threatening peace accords

The Biden administration on Monday issued sanctions against the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina for undermining democratic and peace efforts in the Western Balkans. 

The U.S. said that Marinko Čavara, president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has obstructed or threatened the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords — the nearly three-decade-old framework for pursuing stability in the region. 

The administration also sanctioned Alen Šeranić, the minister of health and social welfare for the Republika Srpska, the other governing entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina where most of the country’s Serbs now live. Šeranić was sanctioned for undermining state-level institutions that threaten the stability of the government.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Čavara and Šeranić “pursue ethno-nationalist interests at the expense of the peace, stability, and prosperity of their country.”

Blinken described Bosnia and Herzegovina as facing “its most serious crisis since 1995,” the year the Dayton Accords were signed. The signing followed three and a half years of brutal conflict in the wake of the breakup of Yugoslovia that included numerous war crimes such as ethnic cleansing, genocide and rape.  

The secretary said that policies and actions by Čavara and Šeranić are fueling efforts to separate the two entities of the country. Čavara is being sanctioned for what the Treasury Department says is undermining a top court in the country by refusing to nominate judges and “further his and his party’s political interests.”

Šeranić is being sanctioned for his support of a law that would establish a parallel health agency that would undermine the state-level government agency. Blinken said “the establishment of this new entity-level agency obstructs or threatens the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords.”

The sanctions block the individuals from having access to any property, fully or partially-owned, in the U.S.