EU warns of new violence: talks between Serbia and Kosovo fail

EU warns of new violence
Talks between Serbia and Kosovo collapse

With the European Union as mediator, Serbia and Kosovo are to settle their conflict over license plates. But after several hours, the negotiations end without a result. The EU foreign policy chief Borrell sees the danger of an escalation of violence.

Efforts by the EU to defuse the serious tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have failed for the time being. During mediation talks in Brussels, the Kosovan head of government, Albin Kurti, unfortunately did not accept a proposal for de-escalation, explained EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell after around eight hours of unsuccessful negotiations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on the other hand, would have supported him. “I think there is a great deal of responsibility for the failure of today’s talks and for any escalation and violence that may occur on the ground in the following days,” Borrell said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that an escalation must be avoided. The NATO-Kosovo force remains vigilant.

According to Borrell, the EU proposal provided a compromise to resolve the conflict over a new license plate regulation from the Kosovan government. Recently, this even meant that police officers from the EU mission Eulex had to ensure security in the mainly Serb-inhabited north of Kosovo. Serbian police officers in northern Kosovo had previously resigned from the Kosovo police force in protest against the regulation.

Thousands of Kosovo Serbs affected by settlement

The new license plate regulation of the government in Pristina stipulates that license plates from Serbia may no longer be used in Kosovo. The measure affects several thousand Kosovo Serbs in the Serb enclave around the town of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, who often still use vehicles with Serb plates. In addition, travelers from Serbia must also exchange their license plates at the border for provisional Kosovan license plates.

With the regulation, Kosovo is responding to the fact that Serbia, for its part, does not recognize the license plates introduced by Kosovo after the declaration of independence in 2008. According to Borrell, the compromise proposed by the EU stipulated, among other things, that the authorities in Kosovo should suspend measures to enforce the rules. Serbia, on the other hand, should commit to not issuing new license plates to people living in Kosovo.

The EU has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. This is extremely difficult because Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, split from Serbia in 1999 with NATO help and declared its independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, recognized Kosovo’s independence. Others, including Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries, have not done so to this day.

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