Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia over license plate background

Two Kosovar government vehicle registration offices were attacked and damaged early Saturday in the north of the territory, the prime minister said. Albin Kurti, accusing the Serbia to want “provoke a conflict”.

These attacks come on the sixth day of protests by Serbs, the majority in northern Kosovo, to protest against the decision of Pristina to prohibit the entry into the territory of cars with Serbian license plates.

A registration office was set on fire in the small town of Zubin Potok and another was demolished at Zvecan, without causing victims, said the Prime Minister.

The attackers threw two hand grenades at the desk in Zvecan but they did not explode, according to the same source.

The border area between Kosovo and Serbia was flown over twice around midday by Serbian army fighter jets, an AFP correspondent reported.

Serbian army helicopters also flew over two border posts blocked by demonstrators several times on Friday. Helicopter overflights of KFOR, the NATO force deployed in Kosovo, have been regular since the start of the week.

“Serbia clearly encourages and supports them (…) Serbia is abusing the citizens of Kosovo to provoke a serious international conflict”, accused Albin Kurti, on his Facebook account.

“Reciprocity measure”

Former Serbian province, Kosovo proclaimed its independence in 2008 but it was not recognized by Belgrade, which encourages the Serbs living in Kosovo – mostly Albanian, except in the north – not to recognize the authority of Pristina.

The Kosovar government on Monday deployed special police forces near two border posts with Serbia in the north to enforce its decision, which, according to Pristina, is a “reciprocity measure”.

The authorities in Pristina now require vehicles registered in Serbia to remove Serbian number plates and affix temporary plates for circulation in Kosovo.

But hundreds of Serbs blocked traffic on the roads leading to the two border crossings with heavy goods vehicles. They demand the cancellation of this measure.

Pristina justified its decision by the refusal for years of Serbia to let in vehicles registered Republic of Kosovo (RKS), whereas until now Serbian cars entered and circulated freely in Kosovo.

The United States and the European Union have called for the de-escalation of tensions and the return of the two parties to the dialogue on the normalization of their relations, conducted for ten years under the leadership of Brussels.

The Serbian president conditions the resumption of this process by the withdrawal of the Kosovar special forces from northern Kosovo.


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