Kosovo and Kurti are now pushing for the Serbian minority there to switch from Serbian to Kosovo license plates by Nov. 1. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who has stated that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo as independent, complained to the media and general public Friday that “neutral” license plates could have been an option, but that Serbia was not included in the relevant decision-making process, which he claimed has been backed by Germany, France, the United States, Italy and the UK.
Vucic stated that “we were never given a chance to accept anything, literally no chance,” according to the Serbian news site www.b92.net. But at the same time he vowed “no surrender”–apparently to anything Kosovo related.
Serbian-Kosovo tensions have been extremely high for months, with Kosovo sparing no effort to push its cause (and to instigate new checks at borders) and Serbia occasionally making a show of strength with military exercises on the Serbian side. Meanwhile, EU representatives and the US have pressured Vucic to come to a deal, with US representatives voicing optimism that such a deal could happen before the end of the year.
Yet as the license-plate issue has again reared its ugly head, an agreement is difficult to foresee, and in fact United Nations personnel has also voiced concern about a potential flare up of violence in North Kosovo.
In the meantime, Vucic has also faced pressure over “aligning” Serbia with the EU on immigration and Russian sanctions, but at the same time he has appeared to team up with EU bad boy and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban in an attempt to source reasonably priced gas and oil.
This has also brought forth astonishing “revelations,” including a claim that the US attempted to push Hungary into the war in Kosovo under the Bill Clinton administration.
Vucic’s complaints are unlikely to have fallen on completely deaf ears, and B92 also reported that US officials had attempted to convince Kurti to extend the Oct. 31/Nov. 1 deadline—although this seems to have been to no avail.
Serbia Monthly reached out for comment to both Serbian correspondents, as well as a former politicians, who requested anonymity. Journalists referred to the license plate issue as a potential spark that could vastly complicate Serbian international relations—even while they admitted that Vucic has very little room to maneuver on such matters, due to his political support.
Yet the aforementioned politician put it more simply, stating that Kosovo is “not just a tinderbox–that description is simply not complete.”
Only to add: “I would put it this way: Kosovo is a tinderbox in search of a match.”
Photo of Kosovo PM Albin Kurti by: Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.