Biden signs decree to sanction threats to stability in the Western Balkans


June 9 (UPI) – President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to sanction those who threaten the stability of the Western Balkans amid support for his states’ membership of the European Union.

Order signed on Tuesday gives the state and treasury departments more power to impose targeted sanctions against those who threaten the peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of the Western Balkans as well as those who undermine the democratic processes of the region and engage in serious human rights violations and corruption, the White House said.

Specifically, it expands the United States’ ability to punish actors threatening the implementation of regional peace, security and cooperation agreements, including the 2018 Prespa Accord between Greece and Macedonia, and the International residual mechanism of criminal tribunals, among others.

“Corruption anywhere directly harms the foreign policy, national security and economic health of the United States and our partners and allies,” the White House said. “That is why the United States is committed to promoting accountability and fighting impunity for those implicated in significant acts of corruption in the Western Balkans and around the world.”

The sanctions specifically freeze US assets and the properties of those targeted.

Biden signed the decree as part of a campaign to integrate the Western Balkan states into the European Union.

According to the website of the European Council, which oversees EU policy, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently in accession negotiations while Serbia and Albania have obtained candidate status.

Earlier this week, European Parliament President David Sassoli called so that states are admitted to the block of 27 members.

Last month, 13 ambassadors to the EU released a joint recorded message on the occasion of Europe Day on May 9 in support of the inclusion of the Western Balkans in the EU.

“The Western Balkans are at the heart of Europe, and we are more determined than ever to anchor you firmly in the EU”, they said.

A few weeks earlier, Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department, had published A declaration April 26 amid speculation about the redistribution of borders in the region to reiterate the United States’ commitment to support the European integration of the Western Balkan states.

“We are committed to helping the countries of the Western Balkans deepen their own regional economic partnerships, achieve their climate goals, counter Russia’s energy coercion through the diversification and development of clean energies, and fight corruption and organized crime, ”he said. “We also want to help the region grow and prosper while protecting strategic infrastructure and industries from malicious practices from China. “

Regarding speculation about changing borders along ethnic lines, Price said this would risk further instability in the region and “evokes memories of past tensions.”

“A stable and prosperous future for the Western Balkans must be based on good governance, the rule of law, multi-ethnic democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

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