Kosovo backs off from Serb automobile plate rule after West warnings By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A driver removes a sticker overlaying the nationwide markings on his automobile plates on the Jarinje border crossing, Kosovo September 1, 2022. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Picture

PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo stated it’ll delay a rule to confiscate automobiles owned by ethnic Serbs who refuse to make use of native automobile plates following criticism by Western international locations that such a transfer might worsen ethnic tensions.

Kosovo has tried a couple of instances this yr to require its Serb minority to vary their previous automobile plates that date earlier than 1999 when Kosovo was nonetheless a part of Serbia. Nevertheless, this transfer has been met with robust and generally violent resistance by native Serbs who stay within the northern a part of the nation.

The final deadline was Nov. 1 when round 10,000 motorists needed to change their previous automobile registrations.

Talking throughout a authorities assembly, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti stated such a call will probably be applied steadily.

“These automobile plates are unlawful…we need to give an opportunity to all of those that have an interest to be built-in,” Kurti stated.

He stated the choice was taken to respect the rule of regulation but additionally tackle Western international locations’ issues.

Kurti stated drivers will first be given warnings for 3 weeks, then will probably be fined for a interval of two months, adopted by a interval of momentary automobile plates and if they don’t change their plates by April 21, their autos will probably be confiscated.

Native Serbs have threatened to dam roads, as they did previously, if Pristina takes any steps to cease them from utilizing their automobiles.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 however round 50,000 ethnic Serbs who stay within the northern a part of Kosovo refuse to acknowledge Pristina’s authority and nonetheless think about themselves part of Serbia.

“Kosovo has the appropriate to implement the license plate regime…however an extension of the timeline is within the curiosity of creating progress on the EU-facilitated dialogue to normalize Kosovo-Serbia relations,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated in an announcement on the identical day.

He added that his administration was “dissatisfied and anxious” by Kurti’s rejections previously days to delay the ruling for an additional 10 months.

America and different Western European international locations are the largest supporters of Kosovo but it surely stays unclear if Kurti’s newest transfer will please them.

Mediated by the European Union and supported by the US, Serbia and Kosovo have been holding talks for years to normalise relations however little has been achieved.

Kosovo is acknowledged by round 110 international locations, primarily western nations, however not by Serbia, China, Russia and others.

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