Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia erupt over license plates

Published date05 August 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
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So, when a new law took effect at the beginning of the month that requires ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo to stop using their Serbian license plates and switch to plates issued by Kosovo within the next two months, it angered Serbians on both sides of the border. And it is not only license plates that need to be switched; the new law also requires all people with Serbian passports to obtain a special document in order to enter Kosovo, just as all Kosovan citizens must do if they want to enter Serbia.

The day before the new law was set to take effect on August 1, ethnic Serbs protested its requirements by blocking roads in northern Kosovo; police allege that shots were fired at them during clashes with the protesters. This led to the closing of two border crossings, and accusations that Serbia was fomenting the protests in order to destabilize Kosovo.

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The government of Kosovo said in a statement released on July 31, that it "forcefully condemns the obstruction of roads in the north of Kosovo and the firing of weapons by armed persons there today. This has everything to do with a tendency to destabilize Kosovo and to threaten the peace and security of our citizens and our country. Multiple aggressive acts were perpetuated this afternoon and evening, instigated and planned by Belgrade authorities."

The start date of the new law has now been delayed by 30 days amid calls by Kosovo and the European Union to remove the roadblocks.

Meanwhile, NATO, which maintains a peacekeeping force of about 3,700 in Kosovo, said in a statement that it is "ready to intervene if stability is jeopardized." NATO got involved in Kosovo after it brokered a peace treaty between Kosovo and Serbia following their deadly 1998-1999 war. Tensions between them remained high after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Ethnic Serbs make up about 5% of Kosovo's...

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