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Kosovo-Serbia: EU Raises Alarm Over Car Plates Dispute

    Kosovo-Serbia: EU Raises Alarm Over Car Plates Dispute
    Last updated: 1 week ago
    Image credit: Anadolu Agency

    Facts

    • The European Union's high representative Josep Borrell warned on Monday of "escalation and violence" after emergency EU-brokered talks between Serbian Pres. Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti failed to resolve their long-running dispute over car plates. [1]
    • Borrell suggested that both nations were to blame, but particularly singled out Kosovo's Kurti for rejecting a proposal to defuse tensions related to the plate dispute. Local Serbs in Kosovo often desire to use plates issued by Belgrade that are not legal in Kosovo. [2]
    • Following a request from the US Ambassador Jeff Hovenier, PM Kurti announced overnight on Monday that the decision to fine drivers with Serbian-issued car plates was postponed for 48 hours. Kurti said he would "work with the US and the EU to find a solution during the next two days." [3]
    • Kosovo police planned to impose fines of €150 starting on Tuesday morning as the government has decided that Serbian license plates "predating" its territory are no longer valid — ordering 50K Serbs in northern Kosovo to use Kosovo-issued plates. [4]
    • Car plates have long been a source of contention between Serbia and Albanian-populated Kosovo. Tensions have been escalating recently, with Kosovo Serbs resigning en masse from institutions in Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo this month. [5]
    • Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. While the US and most of its European allies recognize it as an independent country, Belgrade — with support from Russia and China — hasn't acknowledged Kosovo's sovereignty. [6]
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    Spin

    Narrative A

    Belgrade has shown its commitment to dialogue and openness to find a solution that de-escalates tensions and preserves peace between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Unfortunately, the other side doesn't want to fix this problem. It's absurd that Kosovo is willing to start a conflict when neutral plates could ensure stability and avoid deaths.

    Narrative B

    EU's Josep Borrell has failed to be a neutral mediator, favoring Serbia during talks and distorting reality to blame Kosovo. While Pristina has sought long-term peace and stability, Belgrade has consistently undermined these goals and violated previous agreements to pursue its hegemonic ambitions.

    Narrative C

    Despite Kosovo having its right as a sovereign state to immediately implement its laws, this is the wrong moment to enforce the rule of law on illegal car plates in the north. Pristina may not be capable of doing it alone and its Western allies are already involved in the Ukraine War, so Belgrade could take advantage of this to promote unrest while blaming Kosovo authorities. This is messy all the way around.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Serbia will recognize Kosovo by July 2042, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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