January 25, 2022

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The Stability and Security of the Western Balkans

9 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is committed to ensuring the stability and security of the Western Balkans, allowing countries in the region to fulfill their potential as free and prosperous democracies. We are also committed to combatting corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance.  The United States recognizes that corruption threatens economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself.  Corruption anywhere directly damages the foreign policy, national security, and economic health of the United States and our partners and allies.  That is why we are committed to promoting accountability and combating impunity for those involved in significant corruption in the Western Balkans and throughout the world.

In furtherance of this commitment, President Biden issued today an Executive Order (E.O.) that builds on and expands previous E.O.s, modernizing the Western Balkans sanctions regime by including references to the 2018 Prespa Agreement and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  Additionally, the new E.O. provides for sanctions against persons whose actions destabilize the region by undermining democratic institutions and the rule of law or by violating human rights. To best address region-wide networks of corruption, Albania has been added to the scope of the E.O.

The E.O. also authorizes 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 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. are not eligible to enter the United States and are not eligible for a U.S. visa.

Our commitment to promoting democracy, transparency, and accountability, across the Western Balkans is both unwavering and consistent with the standards the countries of the region must meet to secure their goals of advancing on the European path.

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