Željka Cvijanović: Championing Pro-Russian Policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Željka Cvijanović is a Bosnian Serb politician performing as the 8th and current Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2022. She formerly acted as the 9th president of Republika Srpska from 2018 to 2022. A member of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, Cvijanović was the 11th PM of Republika Srpska from 2013 to 2018. In the 2018 general election, she was designated as president of Republika Srpska, taking office on 19 November 2018.

She is known for her pro-Russian stance. She strongly objected to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. Once, Željka Cvijanović commented at a press conference in Banja Luka that there has been no determination by any authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina to impose sanctions against Russia. Answering journalists’ questions, she thereby rejected claims from the Party of Democratic Progress that Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the nations that imposed sanctions against Russia because of the war in Ukraine.

In 2022, the UK announced sanctions against Zeljka Cvijanovic, accusing her of attempting to undermine the legitimacy of Bosnia-Herzegovina by making policies that amount to a “de facto secession.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss mentioned the policies on April 11 and asserted that Zeljka had been “encouraged” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s example. “The politician is deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Inspired by Putin, their reckless behaviour threatens stability and security across the Western Balkans,” she stated.

“With these tough sanctions, we are showing that the enemies of peace will be held to account,” Truss said. Cvijanovic — the first to be targeted under London’s Bosnia sanctions regime — now encounter British travel bans and any investments or property they hold in the United Kingdom will be frozen.

Britain says that Cvijanovic “has used her roles of authority to push for de facto secession of Republika Srpska…in direct contravention of the country’s constitution.” Cvijanovic, the president of the Republika Srpska entity, “publicly honoured war criminals and rejected the genocide in Srebrenica” in submitting draft laws in Republika Srpska that aimed to transfer state competencies to the entity level, Britain stated.

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