Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced the result of an urgent meeting of the national security council regarding a tax imposed by Kosovo on Monday: Serbia is ready to sit in talks over the tax, if Kosovo withdraws police forces from its northern towns.
Vucic had previously threatened Kosovo with “painful measures” to be announced after the urgent meeting but no such measures were made public.
The president said he had refused a proposal for a solution by the Quint countries, and instead asked for unconditional withdrawal of Kosovo police from Kosovo’s north.
On Monday, Kosovo started to implement on Serbian-licensed cars the same requirement Serbia imposes on Kosovo cars: changing their plates at the border to temporary ones before entering the neighboring country.
Kosovo government’s decision came a few days after the expiration of an agreement from 2016 between the two countries, which allowed for original plates to be used just by covering with stickers the flag of Kosovo and Serbia. Serbia never implemented this agreement. Kosovo cars were and are still required to replace their plates with temporary Serbian plates. Upon expiration of the agreement, Kosovo reciprocated with the same measure.
Vucic appeared to be alarmed by the neighboring country’s decision on Monday. An urgent meeting of the highest security and military body was called, including the president, the ministers of defense and interior, the chief of army and the chief of intelligence services.
At the same time, Belgrade-controlled Serbian politicians in Kosovo supported a number of Kosovo Serbs who blocked the roads to two border crossings.
His critics in Serbia said he was putting up a show by creating a storm in a teacup in order to portray himself as the savior of the Serbian people.
The Kosovo government strengthened the police presence in the two crossings but refrained from dispersing protesters and opening the roads.
The northern part of Kosovo has been inhabited by a Serbian majority since the war ended in 1999. The area was ethnically cleansed during the war, with most surviving Albanians and other nationalities moving to other parts of the country.
On Tuesday, Vucic vowed to provide enough food for Serbs in the north of Kosovo: “There will not always be everything but there will be enough basic foodstuffs in the north of the province, so that people can live normally or relatively normally,” he stated after the security council meeting.