FACT SHEET: Executive Order Blocking Ownership and Suspending Entry into the United States of Certain Persons Contributing to the Destabilizing Situation in the Western Balkans
Today, President Biden signed an executive decree to further respond to the ongoing national emergency declared in Executive Decree (EO) 13219 of June 26, 2001 and continued in EO 13304 of May 28, 2003, regarding the Balkans westerners. Today’s OE 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 or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights violations in the Western Balkans, among others. The EO that the president signs today builds on the existing national emergency and expands the criteria for designation, to address challenges such as corruption and other actions that hamper key institutions and international agreements.
Corruption anywhere directly harms 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 fighting impunity for those implicated in significant acts of corruption in the Western Balkans and around the world. By definition, corruption serves the interests of those who engage in it, lining their pockets and responding only to their own personal interests, not the interests of a country or its people. Corruption undermines economic growth, facilitates organized crime and undermines confidence in democratic processes. These forces open the door for our strategic adversaries to undermine democracy, hinder progress towards effective and accountable governance and prevent the Western Balkan region from achieving full integration into transatlantic institutions. They allow individuals to exploit weak rule of law and profit from systemic corruption to the detriment of ordinary citizens. They thus pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy.
More precisely, the OE that the president signs today:
- underlines the United States’ long-standing commitment to the implementation of the post-war agreements and institutions established following the break-up of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
- Expands the criteria for the designation of sanctions to include activities, inter alia, related to: threatening the peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans; undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans; engage in serious human rights violations in the Western Balkans; and engage in corruption related to the Western Balkans;
- Expands our ability to target actors involved in a violation or act that has hindered or threatened the implementation of any regional security, peace, cooperation or mutual recognition agreement or accountability framework or mechanism related to the Balkans Western countries beyond the previous OEs, include the Prespa Agreement, the Conclusions of the Peace Implementation Conference and the International Mechanism called to exercise the residual functions of the Criminal Tribunals, 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 interest in the property of persons named under this SO that are or come to the United States or the possession or control of United States persons is blocked, and United States persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. In addition, persons sanctioned under this OE will be prohibited from entering the United States or holding a United States visa. Ensuring the security and political stability of the Western Balkan region is consistent with the Biden administration’s commitment to promoting fundamental United States national security interests, including the protection of democratic institutions. The Administration will continue to meet the challenges of the region head-on. The Treasury Department, in consultation with the State Department, will continue to update the list of those subject to sanctions under this order.