Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order to further address the ongoing national emergency declared in Executive Order (E.O.) 13219 of June 26, 2001, and continued in E.O. 13304 of May 28, 2003, related to the Western Balkans. Today’s E.O. provides additional sanctions authorities, including to target individuals who threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans as well as those responsible for or complicit in, or who have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse in the Western Balkans, among other things. The E.O. the President is signing today builds on the existing national emergency and expands the designation criteria, to address such challenges as corruption, and other actions that obstruct key institutions and international agreements.
Corruption anywhere directly damages the foreign policy, national security, and economic health of the United States and our partners and allies. That is why the United States is committed to promoting accountability and combating impunity for those involved in significant corruption in the Western Balkans and throughout the world. By definition, corruption serves the interests of those few who engage in it, lining their own pockets and accountable only to their own personal interests, not the interests of a country or its people. Corruption saps economic growth, facilitates organized crime, and undermines confidence in democratic processes. These forces open the door for our strategic adversaries to undermine democracy, stymie progress toward effective and accountable governance and prevent the Western Balkans region from achieving full integration into transatlantic institutions. They allow individuals to exploit weak rule of law and to profit from systemic corruption at the expense of ordinary citizens. They thereby constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
Specifically, the E.O. the President is signing today:
- Underscores the United States’ longstanding commitment to implementation of the post-war agreements and institutions established following the breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
- Expands sanctions designation criteria to include activities, among others, related to: threatening the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans; undermining democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans; engaging in serious human rights abuse in the Western Balkans; and engaging in corruption related to the Western Balkans;
- Expands our ability to target actors engaged in a violation of, or an act that has obstructed or threatened the implementation of, any regional security, peace, cooperation, or mutual recognition agreement or framework or accountability mechanism related to the Western Balkans beyond previous E.O.s, to include the Prespa Agreement, the Conclusions of the Peace Implementation Conference, and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and
- Clarifies that the geographic scope of the Western Balkans includes the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Albania.
All property and interests in property of persons designated pursuant to this E.O. that are or come within the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. In addition, individuals sanctioned under this E.O. will be banned from entering the United States or holding a U.S. visa. Ensuring the security and political stability of the Western Balkans region is consistent with the Biden Administration’s commitment to advancing core U.S. national security interests, including the protection of democratic institutions. The Administration will continue to address the challenges in the region head on. The Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State will continue to update the list of individuals subject to sanctions under this order.