CrisisWatch Kosovo

Unchanged Situation

Following sharp rise in tensions late July, govt reached agreement with Serbia allowing border crossings with existing ID cards, but failed to resolve license plate dispute. Uptick in tensions late July continued into Aug over govt plans to issue temporary IDs and license plates to Serbs entering country. Notably, PM Albin Kurti 10 Aug warned of “possibility of rising tensions and new conflicts”; NATO 17 Aug confirmed increase in troop numbers and reiterated readiness to “deploy them”; and Serbian President Vučić 21 Aug accused Pristina of seeking “final removal” of Serbs, warning that if NATO did not protect them, Serbia “will save our people from persecution and pogroms”; PM Kurti 26 Aug asked NATO for additional troops to “improve security”. However, following unsuccessful talks earlier in Aug, EU High Representative Josep Borrell 27 Aug announced Kosovo and Serbia had reached deal to resolve dispute over temporary IDs, agreeing that neither side will require additional documentation for crossing border. However, sides failed to resolve license plate dispute as govt planned to begin policy of making all Serbia-registered vehicles switch to temporary Republic of Kosovo plates at border from 1 Sept; EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak 31 Aug said “we have two months to find a solution”, referring to 31 Oct deadline set by Pristina for switch to local license plates. Meanwhile, in accordance with June agreement struck with Serbia, govt 10 Aug transferred $40 million to cover Serb minority’s energy costs until Nov, when Serbs will take over payments.

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