Kosovo license plates are banned in Serbia. Now Kosovo is turning the tables. Emotions rise.
No one with a Serbian license plate on their car has been able to simply drive across the border into Kosovo since Monday. He or she must remove the license plate, buy a temporary Kosovar license plate from the border officer and stick it inside the windshield. This costs five euros and is valid for two months. The whole thing is boring, takes time and gets in the way of people’s free movement.
The principle of reciprocity between Kosovo and Serbia
When Albin Kurti took over as prime minister of Kosovo in the spring, he promised that he would do many things differently from his predecessors. One of the points was the dealings with neighboring Serbia, which does not recognize the independence of Kosovo. Kosovo is still considered a province in its own right.
Kurti promised that he would introduce the principle of reciprocity, and that he would enforce all the rules applied by Serbia against Kosovo, and vice versa against Serbia as well. Now Kurti has taken action.
The government of Kosovo under Albin Kurti says it would prefer this measure not be necessary. But they were submitted because they wanted equal treatment on all points: on the contrary, all Serbian measures that hindered the life of Kosovars should apply to Serbs.
Kosovar license plate banned in Serbia
In fact, for years Serbia did not allow entry to any car with a license plate designation “RKS”. “RKS” means Republic of Kosovo. License plates must be removed in order to drive into Serbia. A temporary license plate must also be purchased for five euros.
Not surprisingly, Kosovo is now putting the principle of equal treatment into practice. However, nationalist sentiments boil with it.
In the northern part of Kosovo, where the majority of the population is Serbs, the men set up roadblocks at two important border posts. Led by local politicians closely allied with the Serbian government in Belgrade, they block traffic in both directions between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Serbia.
They say that the measures taken by the Kosovo government threaten the economic existence and life of the Serb minority in Kosovo.
Serbia’s president responds
The situation at the border crossing is tense. The Albin Corte government sent special police units. The Serbs in the north see this as a kind of invasion of their region.
In Belgrade, President Aleksandar Vucic convened the National Security Council of Serbia. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, he announced that Kosovo’s special forces would have to withdraw from border posts immediately. Then a solution could be negotiated with the Curti government in Brussels.
Vucic also demands that the European Union say within a month whether the agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina years ago are still valid. Vucic accuses Kosovo of breaching these agreements with the new rules for license plates. On the other hand, Kurti says he does nothing but implement the agreement.
Do not normalize the relationship
How will the new dispute open. What is clear, however, is that the EU now has a real problem in the Balkans. For years it tried to normalize relations between Pristina and Belgrade. But the implementation of the Brussels agreements did not materialize. The license plate problem is a smaller problem.
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