Brussels (Brussels Morning) Ethnic Serbs in Kosovo have removed blockades on the border with Serbia after a temporary compromise was agreed to resolve the licence plate row between the two countries.
NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) has stepped in as part of an EU-mediated deal to end the dispute over car licence plates, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence and therefore its right to register automobiles. Last month, Kosovo responded in kind, insisting that drivers from Serbia had to purchase temporary licence plates in order to use its roads.
Kosovo made clear that the requirement for Serbian drivers to do so was its retaliation for similar measures that Serbia had put into effect in 2008, from the time Kosovo declared independence.
“From this weekend and for the next two weeks, KFOR will maintain a temporary, robust and agile presence in the area, in accordance with the mentioned arrangement”, the NATO peacekeeping force declared in a statement.
EU helped to reach agreement
Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement on Thursday with the help of mediation by Miroslav Lajčák, the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues.
Accordingly, drivers will use stickers to cover country identifiers on licence plates and KFOR will control the area.
As part of Serbia’s plan to join the EU, the country must resolve open issues with Kosovo, which has yet to be recognised by five EU member states.
While most Western countries recognise Kosovo’s independence, some are reluctant to do so. Meanwhile, Serbia’s ally Russia continues to block UN membership for Kosovo.
Serbia and Kosovo have six months in which to find a permanent solution to the licence plate issue, with the sticker regime to remain in place until then, DW reported on Sunday.The sticker compromise was initially agreed to in 2016, but was not implemented because the government of Kosovo fell in 2017, leaving the issue unaddressed until recently.