Kosovo to ban Serbian license plates on the same day as Serbian parliamentary elections Dec. 17

With parliamentary elections in Serbia scheduled for Sunday, long-time Serbian strongman and President Aleksandar Vucic both taking criticism and attempting to maintain power–and any kind of normalization with Kosovo in constant jeopardy—Kosovo is once again upping the ante by refusing to allow vehicles with Serbian license plates in Kosovo beginning on Dec. 17.

This move is sure to all but guarantee unrest in Kosovo, as it also comes on the back of a refusal to allow polling stations for the Serbian election—which would have been overseen by the OSCE—to function in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, as if to throw still more fuel to the fire, EU spokesperson Peter Stano said Friday, Dec. 15, that an unsigned agreement to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia—as well as an also unsigned implementation annex—is legally binding for both states.

Stano’s statement aside, the Serbian elections represent either a turning point or yet another crisis point for a country that ostensibly is targeting EU accession. Vucic has vocally played both sides, wooing EU funds and stating that Serbia does want to join the EU, but also asserting that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo while maintaining relations with Russia under “neutrality.”

Yet although he is not running himself Sunday, his SNS party faces an opposition, which while seemingly forever fractured, did gain steam due to economic woes, high inflation, perceived corruption in the government and also the summer’s anti-gun violence protests.

Hard-liners, however, have backed Vucic, the Orthodox Church, Russia and a Kosovo-is-Serbia take that in fact the majority of Serbs appear to agree with.

Meanwhile, while German representatives within the EU (and not only) often appear to come down hard on Serbia—especially in the wake of a bizarre paramilitary raid only months ago near Zvecan/Banjska—Kosovo has constantly appeared to want to provoke tensions. This has included rejecting the formation of a Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), which was actually agreed upon in 2013, attempting to force ethnic Serbs to get new IDs and license plates (which arguably triggered the past year of tensions to begin with, a tacit refusal to re-run elections in North Kosovo that saw practically no participation of ethnic Serbs the first time around…

And now the license plate game yet again.

Stay tuned. Sunday will be…


Photo by Das österreichische Außenministerium, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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