US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirms Washington’s commitment to fighting corruption in the Western Balkans.
“The United States is aware that corruption threatens economic equality, the fight against poverty, economic development efforts, and democracy itself. “Corruption, wherever it is, directly harms the foreign policy, national security and economy of the United States, as well as our allies and partners,” Blinken said in a statement following President Biden’s Executive Order to expand the map and criteria for imposing sanctions on individuals and organizations involved in corruption and organized crime in the Western Balkans.
“The United States is committed to promoting accountability and combating impunity for those involved in major corruption cases in the Western Balkans and around the world,” said Mr Blinken.
By declaring the fight against corruption a priority of national security in the United States, the Biden administration appears prepared to take a stand against individuals who it believes are involved in major acts of corruption and who undermine the rule of law, as well as those have endangered peace in the Western Balkans.
According to Mr. Blinken, President Biden’s latest executive order expands the map of sanctions in the Western Balkans, including some recent agreements, such as the 2018 Prespa Accord, or the extension of the Hague War Crimes Tribunal’s mandate in the former Yugoslavia.
In addition to endangering peace and security, sanctions can now be imposed on individuals who destabilize the region by undermining democratic institutions and the rule of law, or who violate human rights.
To best crack down on corruption networks in the Western Balkans, Secretary Blinken said, the Executive Order now includes Albania.
Until now, the Executive Order, a years-long continuation of the stances of various US administrations since 2001, included only countries emerging from the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
According to Secretary Bliken, “The Executive Order authorizes the imposition of sanctions on individuals, or entities, that are responsible for corruption in the region, that have been involved in embezzling public funds, misappropriating private property for personal or political gain, or involved in bribery. Properties, or interests in various properties, that persons designated under the Executive Order have in the United States, or that are related to the United States, or fall into the hands of persons in the United States, will be blocked and citizens Americans are prohibited from conducting transactions with them. In addition, individuals designated under this order will not be allowed to enter the United States, “said Secretary Blinken. / VOA