Serbia’s Vucic to meet Kosovo PM Kurti over licence plates dispute


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Tension has risen between the two sides after Pristina declared that by next April, around 10,000 Kosovan Serbs with licence plates issued by Serbia must replace them with plates from the Republic of Kosovo.

President Vucic said he was not optimistic a deal would be reached.
(AP Archive)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said he will meet Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels to discuss a licence plates row that has further raised tensions between the countries.Monday’s meeting takes place amid escalating discord between Serbia and Kosovo that risks becoming one of the worst regional crises in years.The main source of tension is Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence which Serbia does not recognise and encourages the Serb minority to remain loyal to Belgrade.In the latest development, Serbs in northern Kosovo this month resigned from public institutions in protest over the row on vehicle number plates.Pristina has declared that by next April, around 10,000 Kosovan Serbs with licence plates issued by Serbia must replace them with plates from the Republic of Kosovo under a gradual plan involving warnings, fines and eventually road bans.The dispute sounded alarm bells in the European Union, which has been attempting to mediate talks to try to normalise ties between the two sides.READ MORE: Serbia rejects recognition of Kosovo as condition to speed up EU membership

Will a deal be reached?Announcing the meeting with Kurti on Monday, when Kosovo will start issuing fines for those still using Serbian plates, Vucic said he was not optimistic a deal would be reached.”I will go there not because I believe that we can do anything, but to not give … a sufficient reason to blame Serbia for not wanting to participate in something,” Vucic told TV Prva quoted by the RTS state-run broadcaster.The talks should start at 8:00 am (0700 GMT), he added.Meanwhile, the Serb representatives have returned to Kosovo’s parliament but not to other public bodies.Last month, the United States urged Kosovo to delay the licence plate requirement, charging that the Western-backed state has been uncompromising.The US said Kosovo was within its rights but should delay the ruling to give time for EU-led diplomacy.The EU in August brokered a deal to allow free movement between Kosovo and Serbia, after a series of violent incidents.READ MORE:
Serbia to step in if NATO doesn’t ‘do its job’ in Kosovo

Source: AFP


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