EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell announced overnight that Kosovo and Serbia had reached a deal to end their row over car license plates, which Brussels, Washington and NATO had warned could escalate into violence.
“Serbia will stop issuing license plates with Kosovo cities’ denominations,” Borrell said, while “Kosovo will cease any further actions related to re-registration of vehicles.”
The license plate issue has been a source of contention for some time, with approximately 100,000 local Serbs in Kosovo using plates issued by Belgrade that are illegal in Kosovo. Kosovo had threatened to start issuing fines to those drivers earlier this week, before agreeing to a 48-hour delay requested by the U.S.
The broader conflict dates back to a war in the late 1990s, after which Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize the sovereignty of its former province. Pristina and Belgrade have been attempting to negotiate over technical issues through an EU-led dialogue since 2011.
On Monday, Borrell had slammed Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti — but especially Kurti — for failing to defuse the car plate row.
Borrell said overnight that he will invite both parties in the coming days to discuss an EU proposal to further deescalate the dispute.