Kosovo, Serbia reach deal to resolve license plate dispute

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Serbia and Kosovo on Saturday reached a deal to resolve a dispute on the use of Serbian-issued license plates and ID cards in Kosovo, the EU said.

“We have a deal,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted. “Under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, Serbia agreed to abolish entry/exit documents for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed to not introduce them for Serbian ID holders.”

“Kosovo Serbs, as well as all other citizens, will be able to travel freely between Kosovo & Serbia using their ID cards,” Borrell said, adding that Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti gave guarantees to this end.

“Citizens of our Republic may now travel to Serbia freely as equals,” Kurti said in a tweet. Kosovo “will not introduce entry-exit docs for Serbian IDs,” he said.

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Borrell said a “European solution” was found between the two countries.

The announcement came after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday that talks failed to ease tensions between the countries, despite ongoing efforts from EU and U.S. officials to bridge differences between Belgrade and Pristina.

On Saturday, Vučić said there would be a disclaimer posted on all border crossings stating that the acceptance of Kosovo ID cards would be done “exclusively for practical reasons, to make it easier for individuals and to enable the freedom of movement.”

The agreement cannot be interpreted “as a recognition of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo,” Vučić said.

The long-running border row sparked fears of an escalation in the region earlier this summer. Protesters blocked roads in northern Kosovo over new rules requiring Kosovo Serbs to use Kosovo-issued car license plates and for people entering the country to receive special entry documents from September 1.

The increasing tensions prompted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to say last week that peacekeeping forces were “ready to do more” in Kosovo if needed.

Una Hajdari contributed reporting.