Kosovo and Serbia reached an 11th-hour deal on Wednesday to end a nearly two-year dispute over car license plates in northern Kosovo, which the West had warned could trigger ethnic violence, the European Union's foreign policy chief said.
“We have a deal,” Josep Borrell posted on Twitter after the agreement was reached in Brussels under EU mediation.
“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.”
Kosovo had planned to start issuing fines from Thursday to some 10,000 Serb drivers who continue to use Serbian-issued car license plates.
A previous attempt on Monday failed when Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic failed to reach a deal and Kosovo was forced to delay the start of fining the drivers for 48 hours after a US request.
“Serbia will stop issuing license plates with Kosovo Cities’ denominations and Kosovo will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles,” Borrell wrote.
Kosovo has attempted this year to require its Serb minority to change their old car plates that date before 1999 when Kosovo was still part of Serbia. Serbs in the northern part of the country have resisted, sometimes violently.
Around 50,000 ethnic Serbs who live there refuse to recognize Pristina’s authority and still consider themselves a part of Serbia.
Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani thanked Washington for the deal.
“Their support for the dialog process between Kosovo and Serbia is indispensable. Kosovo is grateful,” Osmani wrote on Twitter.
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