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Kosovo and Serbia reach an agreement to end the dispute over license plates -EU

2022/11/23 at 11:55 pm

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Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement on Wednesday to end a nearly two-year dispute over car license plates in northern Kosovo, which the West had warned could spark ethnically motivated violence, the head of policy said. outside the European Union.

“We have an agreement”, published Josep Borrell on the social network Twitter, after the agreement reached in Brussels with the mediation of the EU.

“(I am) very pleased to announce that the chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia, under the facilitation of the EU, have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and fully concentrate on the proposal to normalize their relations.”

Kosovo was scheduled to start issuing fines as of Thursday to some 10,000 Serb drivers who continue to use Serbian-issued car plates.

An earlier attempt on Monday failed when Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic were unable to reach an agreement. Kosovo was forced to delay the start of fines for drivers by 48 hours after a request from the United States.

“Serbia will stop issuing license plates with names of Kosovo cities and Kosovo will cease actions related to vehicle re-registration,” Borrell wrote.

Borrell said that he will invite both parties in the coming days to discuss an EU proposal, also supported by France and Germany, that would allow the enemies to normalize their relations.

Kosovo has tried this year to require its Serb minority to change their old car license plates from before 1999, when Kosovo was still part of Serbia. Serbs in the north of the country have resisted, sometimes violently.

Some 50,000 ethnic Serbs who live there refuse to recognize Pristina’s authority and continue to consider themselves part of Serbia.

The president of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, thanked Washington for the agreement.

“Her support for the dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia is indispensable. Kosovo is grateful,” Osmani wrote on Twitter.

The United States welcomed the agreement and urged Kosovo and Serbia to work on normalizing relations.

“The two sides have taken a giant step today, with the facilitation of the EU, to ensure peace and stability throughout the region,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

In a sign of disobedience over the car license plate issue, nearly 600 policemen from the Serbian minority, followed by judges, prosecutors and other state workers, walked off their jobs this month.

It is not clear if they will be allowed to return to their jobs or if new people will be hired.

In 2013, Kosovo and Serbia committed to an EU-sponsored dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues between them, but little progress has been made.

Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence is recognized by some 110 countries, but not by Serbia, Russia, China and five EU member states.

NATO still has some 3,700 peacekeepers on the ground.

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