Ambassador Byrnes briefed Prime Minister Zaev and FM Osmani on the E.O. issued by President Biden

June 11, 2021

Ambassador Byrnes briefed Prime Minister Zaev and Foreign Minister Osmani today on the Executive Order issued earlier this week by President Biden that modernizes the existing executive orders regarding the Western Balkans sanctions regime. In the meeting, they discussed the U.S. priority of ensuring the stability and security of the Western Balkans.

A critical element of this new E.O. is a focus on combatting corruption, in recognition of the fact that transparent and accountable governance is an integral element of a stable democracy.  This new E.O. and the recent National Security Study Memorandum on the Fight Against Corruption released by the White House last week acknowledge the damage corruption does to the foreign policy, national security, and economic health of the United States and its partners and allies. 

This Executive Order provides additional sanctions authorities, including the authority 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 serious human rights abuses in the region. 

It also builds and expands on previous E.O.s by including references to the Prespa Agreement and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, in addition to the three international agreements cited in the previous E.O., i.e., the Dayton Agreement, UNSCR 1244 and the Ohrid Framework Agreement. This E.O. also clarifies the geographic scope of the Western Balkans, which includes the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as well as the Republic of Albania.  

The new authorities allow for the imposition of sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for corruption in the region, including misappropriation of public assets, expropriation of private assets for personal gain or political purposes, or bribery.  All property and interests in property of persons designated under this E.O. that either come within the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons will be blocked.  In addition, individuals sanctioned under this E.O. are not eligible to enter the United States and are not eligible for a U.S. visa.