Germany wants EU sanctions slapped on Bosnian Serb leader

New elected German Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock gives a press conference after a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, at the Quai d'Orsay, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (Gonzalo Fuentes, Pool Photo via AP) (Gonzalo Fuentes)

BERLIN – The European Union should slap sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik for his efforts to get Serb-dominated areas in Bosnia to secede from the Balkan country, Germany's new foreign minister said Monday.

Annalena Baerbock, who took office last week, told reporters in Brussels that the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was “worrying” and the Bosnian Serb secession attempts were “unacceptable.”

“For me personally, this means (...) that the existing sanctions regime should now also be used against Mr. Dodik," Baerbock said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, where she pressed for the measures to be imposed.

Her comments followed a vote Friday by the Bosnian Serb parliament to launch a series of steps that could weaken war-ravaged Bosnia’s central authority.

The United States has already placed a travel ban and assets freeze on Dodik and threatened more sanctions in case Bosnian Serbs further weaken Bosnia’s central institutions.

The idea of the EU imposing sanctions on Dodik has support among most of the bloc's 27 members, but any move to subject him to asset freezes and travel bans requires unanimity, and Hungary and Slovenia are blocking such a move.

The 1992-1995 Bosnian War left more than 100,000 people dead and millions homeless during the worst bloodshed in Europe since World War II. It started after Bosnian Serbs, with the help of the Serb-led Yugoslav army, tried to create ethnically pure territories in Bosnia with an aim of joining Serbia.