Dispute over car license plates: Serious tensions as talks between Serbia and Kosovo collapse

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Dispute over license platesSerious tensions: talks between Serbia and Kosovo collapsed

EU efforts to defuse tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have so far failed. During the talks, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti rejected a proposal for a de-escalation.

Ethnic Serb police officers remove their Kosovar police uniforms in Zvecan.

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that’s what it’s all about

  • In Kosovo, tensions have increased between representatives of the Serb minority and the Pristina government.

  • Recent tensions have to do with car license plates.

  • The Pristina government’s new license plate regulation stipulates that Serbian license plates can no longer be used in Kosovo.

EU efforts to mitigate the severe stresses between Serbia and Kosovo have so far failed. During mediation talks in Brussels on Monday, Kosovar head of government Albin Kurti unfortunately did not accept a de-escalation proposal, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after some eight hours of fruitless negotiations. The Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, on the other hand, would have supported him. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed in the evening that an escalation must be avoided. The NATO-Kosovo force remains alert.

Serbian policemen leave the service.

According to Borrell, the EU proposal provided a compromise to resolve the conflict over a new license plate regulation from the Kosovo government. In the end, this even meant that police officers from the EU Eulex mission had to ensure security in northern Kosovo, inhabited mainly by Serbs. Serb police officers in northern Kosovo had previously resigned from the Kosovo police force in protest against the regulation.

The new government registration regulations pristine stipulates that Serbian registration plates can no longer be used in Kosovo. The move affects several thousand Kosovo Serbs in the Serb enclave around the northern Kosovo town of Kosovska Mitrovica, who often still use vehicles with Serb license plates. In addition, travelers from Serbia must also exchange their registration plates at the border for provisional registration plates from Kosovo.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia with the help of NATO

With the regulation, Kosovo reacts to the fact that Serbia, for its part, does not recognize the license plates introduced by Kosovo after the declaration of independence in 2008. According to Borrell, the compromise proposed by the EU stipulated, among other things, that the authorities of Kosovo should suspend measures to enforce the rules. Serbia, on the other hand, should commit to not issuing new license plates to people living in Kosovo.

The EU has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. This is extremely difficult because Kosovo, which is now inhabited almost exclusively by Albanians, seceded from Serbia in 1999 with the help of NATO and declared its independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Others, including Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries, have not to this day.

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(APD/fos)

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