CrisisWatch Kosovo

Improved Situation

Authorities reached deal with Belgrade over license plates, ending nearly two-year dispute that had fuelled worrying rise in tensions.

Pristina and Belgrade 23 Nov struck European Union (EU)-brokered deal to end license plate dispute amid growing concerns of possible violence. According to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, “Serbia will stop issuing licence plates with Kosovo cities’ denominations”, while Kosovo will cease demands to re-register vehicles with Serbian plates. Borrell added that priority is now Franco-German proposal “on the normalisation of their relations”, details of which were leaked by news agency Euractiv 9 Nov. Deal came as tensions peaked during first part of month. Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla 3 Nov suspended northern Kosovo’s police chief for refusing to issue warnings of fines to drivers with Serbia-issued license plates, as per govt plan. In protest, hundreds of Serb lawmakers, judges and police officers 5 Nov resigned, while reportedly thousands next day rallied in northern Mitrovica city. EU mid-Nov deployed 130 police officers from Poland and Italy to take over patrols in northern Kosovo after resignation of some 600 police officers. NATO 7 Nov urged “both to refrain from unilateral action” while EU and U.S. 21 Nov urged Kosovo to “immediately suspend” next phase of license plate plan. Kurti same day agreed to “48-hour postponement” of fines before parties reached final deal two days later.

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