Tensions as Kosovo Begins Removing Serbian Licence Plates at Border as Reciprocity Measure with Serbia

Kosovo introduced Monday reciprocal measure with Serbia on use of vehicle plates and send its special police at the border crossings with Serbia to implement the new rule prompting protest of locals Serbs who have blocked the road leading to the border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak in northern part of the country.

Serbia's police have for years been taking off registration plates from Kosovo-registered cars entering Serbia, and the latest move by Kosovo authorities appears to be a tit-for-tat move.

The Government explained that as of Monday license plates issued in Serbia will be replaced with temporary ones as reciprocity measures considering that also Serbia applies the same rule for Kosovo vehicles entering their territory. Until 15 September cars with Serbian plates entering Kosovo were not required any additional measure because of a temporary agreement signed between Belgrade and Pristina back in 2016. But Kosovo authorities stated that they are no longer interested to extend the deal brokered by the EU and announced applying reciprocity measures. To implement the new rule the Kosovo Police deployed early on Monday its special units in northern part of the country inhabited mainly by Serbs who consider as a provocation the presence of special forces and in protest blocked the roads leading to the border points with Serbia. Kosovo Serb minister and leader of the Srpska List, a Belgrade-backed political entity representing Serbs in Kosovo, Goran Rakic, was seen on Monday morning near Jarinje crossing and surrounded by protestors said that this is a reaction to today’s decision of the Government of Kosovo. He said that he has contacted the Government in Belgrade to discuss this issue.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressing the Assembly of Kosovo on Monday announced implementation of the decision obliging Serbian vehicles entering Kosovo to get temporary plates. He also explained that as of 15 September Kosovo authorities will no longer issue vehicle plates with acronym “KS” considered by Serbia as status neutral. Until now Kosovo vehicle users Kurti said that the decision was taken after the temporary agreement signed in Brussels has expired.

Kurti assured Kosovo citizens that actions taken Monday by relevant authorities are not directed against Serbian citizens adding that they only implementing an agreement which was agreed also by Serbia and facilitated by the European Union. He also called on Serbs to continue with the daily obligations and have no fear that their rights are being limited with the new deal. He told MPs that this reciprocity measures as he said imposed by Serbia will continue if Serbia acts the same.

The European Union spokesperson Peter Stano addressing media in Brussels called on both sides to stop tensions adding that the dialogue should be used to solve all disputes. / Argumentum.al