Emergency meeting on license plates yields no results, EU slams both sides


A last-minute meeting in Brussels, refereed by EU Head of Foreign Policy and Security Josep Borrell, failed to find common ground between Kosovo and Serbia on the re-registration of license plates for ethnic Serbs in Kosovo—with talks having taken place against a backdrop of the ever-present threat of violence returning the region.Borrell referred to the failed talks in a “tweet” stating that he had: “Debriefed [NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg] about the disappointing outcome of today’s EU-facilitated high level meeting between Belgrade and Pristina.”He added that “escalation must be avoided. The EU and NATO remain coordinated, also on the ground.”

For his part Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that “sleepless nights” and “difficult days” await, which may be an understatement, as tensions have increased incrementally for months over Kosovo’s demand that ethnic Serbs re-register Serbian-issued license plates and replace them with those from Kosovo. Serbia has categorically refused this demand, equating it with the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.

Meanwhile, Serbia has also repeatedly harped back to the peace agreement that has offered stability since 2014, adding that Kosovo and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti have not shown any willingness to compromise.

As cited by Euronews, Borrell said there was “unconstructive behaviour” during the meeting held between sides in Brussels on Monday. It appears that now Kurti will move forward on plans to fine Serbs who fail to replace license plates, and repeat offenders will lose driver’s licenses altogether. This has been complicated by a walkout of ethnic Serbs from public institutions—which has been backed by Vucic—and also Kosovo’s plans to replace ethnic Serb mayors, following their resignation from their positions in Serb-dominated districts in Kosovo.

Image of a destroyed tank dating to the Kosovo War by: Mika Rantanen, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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