US Sanctions 3 for Organizing Bosnian Serb ‘National Day’

Washington — The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled sanctions Wednesday against three individuals for undermining the “peace and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina” by helping to organize an “unconstitutional” celebration of Bosnian Serb identity.

Bosnia has long been governed by a dysfunctional administrative system created under an agreement known as the Dayton pact that divides the country into two bodies — a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian entity known as Republika Srpska (RS). 

The two entities are guaranteed a large degree of autonomy and connected by a weak central government.

The three individuals sanctioned on Wednesday were involved in “executing and organizing the commemoration of ‘Republika Srpska Day'” in the RS region on January 9, the Treasury Department said in a statement. 

This event occurred “in defiance” of a ruling by the country’s constitutional court, which found it to be “unconstitutional” because it prioritized only Serb people, and thus violated “the constitutional obligation of non-discrimination.”

“The United States is deeply concerned about the continued attempts to undermine the Dayton Peace Accords and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitution, two critical institutions that have been instrumental to peace and stability in the region,” U.S. Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement. 

“We will continue to hold to account those who seek to sow division to achieve their own political aims at the expense of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he added. 

The U.S. announcement follows a similar decision by the U.K. authorities on January 15 to sanction a marketing agency involved in organizing the event. 

The “Republika Srpska Day” events were marked as a public holiday and saw some 3,000 people march in a parade in Banja Luka, the RS administrative center.

Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik attended the event with other RS officials and Russia’s ambassador to Bosnia.

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