Kosovo and Serbia agree to end long-standing dispute over car licence number plates

A long-standing row between Kosovo and Serbia over Serbian car plates reached a peaceful conclusion on Wednesday, paving the way for a thaw in ties between the two European nations. Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia in 2008 to become an independent country, had threatened to issue fines from Thursday against drivers who continue to use Serbian-issued car licence plates. 

European Union officials, who were mediating the talks between the two nations, said that a deal has been reached and hoped that it would the pave way for normalisation of relations. 

“We have a deal,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Twitter. 

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“Very pleased to announce that chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalization of their relations.” 

Serbia has decided to stop issuing licence plates with Kosovo cities’ number plates, while Kosovo said that it would not demand that vehicles with Serbian plates be re-registered. 

Kosovo had wanted its ethnic Serb minority to surrender their Serbian-issued plates.   

The talks were held between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels this week. 

On Monday, the US intervened after no progress and asked Kosovo to delay the introduction of fines for 48 hours so a deal could be reached, Deutsche Welle news agency reported. 

The EU has been mediating talks between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels this week. 

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani said “Kosovo is grateful” for Washington’s support of dialogue between the two countries. 

There are around 50,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo. They have been protesting against Prime Minister Kurti over the country’s licence plate policy. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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