The threat of US sanctions hangs over those deemed to be destabilising the Western Balkans, in politics and beyond. Who does Washington have in mind?
An expanded executive order issued by US President Joe Biden and which takes aim at those deemed to be destabilising the Western Balkans is a reflection of the depth of concern in Washington at the direction the region has taken, the growing influence of China and the weakness of EU policy, experts say.
The only question is – who should be most worried?
“I trust we will soon hear for new names not only in politics,” said Gjergj Vurmo, programme director at the Institute for Democracy and Mediation in Albania, speculating that politically-connected business people and media figures “will soon find their names… in the list.”
For Bosnia-based political analyst Tanja Topic, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik was the “inspiration” for the order for his long-standing secessionist threats, but “it will now be interesting to see who will join Dodik on the list.”
Whoever is in the crosshairs, Biden’s order is being seen as a sign of deep unease.
“The Americans are not satisfied with how things are progressing,” said former Serbian ambassador to Washington Ivan Vujacic.