From: Bledar Qalliu
Kosovo-Serbia Negotiations Underway as License Plate Dealine Looms

Kosovo and Serbia are attempting to reach an agreement on license plates as a temporary solution signed in October 2021 expires today, April 21.

Negotiators Besnik Bislimi of Kosovo and Petar Petkovic of Serbia are meeting separately with EU-envoy Miroslav Lajcak in Brussels on Thursday to discuss a final solution.

It’s not clear whether the two top negotiators will meet each other.

“Today’s Chief negotiators’ meeting between Kosovo and Serbia is well under way [and] we have a full agenda of current issues,” wrote Lajcak on Twitter.

Despite constant urging from the European Union, there have been no promising outcomes to the negotiations since October last year.

In September 2021, the government of Kosovo introduced reciprocity measures on Serbian cars, requiring vehicles with Serbian license plates to purchase Kosovo license plates when entering the country.

Kosovo cars traveling to Serbia had been required to do so ever since a 2011 agreement between the two countries had expired. Kosovo’s previous government had refrained from reciprocating due to pressure from the Quint countries and for fear it may prove an obstacle to the EU-facilitated dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

The decision of the Kurti government prompted Belgrade and local Serb politicians in Kosovo’s north, where a majority of Kosovo Serbs reside, to organize week-long protests. The Serbian government of Aleksandar Vucic added fuel to the fire, sending in troops and flying military jets right to the border.

Kurti said that Kosovo would be ready to lift the requirements if Serbia did the same.

Ultimately, the two parties signed a temporary agreement in Brussels whereby cars traveling between the countries would be required to get stickers at the border to cover flags and country names – a measure treating both countries equally. Meanwhile, representatives from Kosovo and Serbia would meet on a periodical basis to deliver a permanent solution by April 21, 2022.

The two parties do not seem to have come any closer to a final solution since then. Kosovo maintains that the reciprocity principle should underline the way to an agreement, while Serbia claims Kosovo has no right to impose reciprocity because it’s not a state recognized by Belgrade.