SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The United States, which brokered Bosnia’s 1995 peace accord, may impose sanctions against those who try to unilaterally withdraw from its state institutions or destabilise the deal, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Tuesday.
Bosnia faces its gravest political crisis since the end of its 1992-95 war, reviving fears of a new conflict after Bosnian Serbs at the end of July blocked the work of the central government and their separatist leader Milorad Dodik announced measures to dismantle key state institutions.
“As a signing witness of the Dayton Peace Accords, the United States reiterates that moves to unilaterally withdraw from state-level institutions or otherwise destabilise the DPA will be met with appropriate action, including the consideration of sanctions,” Blinken said in a letter to members of Bosnia’s presidency, published by the portal istraga.ba.
Under the Dayton peace accords, the former Yugoslav republic was split into two autonomous regions – the Serb Republic and the Federation dominated by Croats and Muslim Bosniaks, linked by a weak central government.
The country’s constitution is part of the peace deal.
Dodik, the Serb member of the tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, has repeatedly said that the Serb Republic will pull out of Bosnia’s armed forces, its top judiciary body and tax administration because these institutions were not enshrined in the Dayton constitution but were created through amendments.
In his letter, Blinken said steps to undermine Bosnian institutions would imperil the Balkan country’s “European perspective” – an allusion to its hoped-for accession to the European Union – and its economic recovery and foreign investment. He called on all parties to return to the table and reach a consensus needed to move the country forward.
His letter was delivered to rival Bosnian ethnic leaders by visiting U.S. State Department Councillor Derek Chollet.
“I called for de-escalation, dialogue and functioning institutions at all levels of government,” Chollet tweeted after meeting presidency members on Tuesday. “It’s time for Bosnia-Herzegovina to turn to the future.”
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Heinrich)