Kosovo snubs EU, levies criticism following Serbia license plate deal

Kosovo snubs EU, levies criticism following Serbia license plate deal | INFBusiness.com

Following Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s criticism of EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell over dialogue with Serbia, President Vjosa Osmani accused him of favouring Belgrade and thanked only the United States for their help in brokering the deal regarding license plates.

Tensions were running high in the north of Kosovo in recent weeks as Pristina pushed ahead with a plan to require all Kosovo citizens to use car license plates issued by their own institutions. This would impact at least 10,000 ethnic Serbs living in the north who refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and insist on using plates issued by the former Yugoslavia before 1999.

Under pressure from the US and EU, multiple pushes for dialogue, and several postponements, an agreement was reached on Wednesday night that will see Belgrade cease issuing the illegal plates while Pristina will not take action against those who still use them.

However, in a social media post, Osmani gave the US credit for the agreement, omitting the EU’s involvement in the process.

“I want to thank Ambassador Jeff Hovenier and the US Government for their commitment to reaching today’s agreement in Brussels. Their support for the dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia is indispensable. Kosovo is grateful to them”, Osmani wrote on Twitter.

Her apparent snub comes after she levied strong criticism against Borrell earlier in the week, accusing him of being impartial and accommodating the “aggressor” during the negotiations.

Kosovo snubs EU, levies criticism following Serbia license plate deal | INFBusiness.com

Kosovo, Serbia reach deal to end dispute over car plates under EU dialogue

In an eleventh-hour effort, Belgrade and Pristina reached an EU-brokered deal late Wednesday (23 November) to end a dangerous dispute over car licence plates in northern Kosovo, which the West had warned could trigger ethnic violence.

“The first rule of any mediation process is impartiality. What we saw today from Mr Borrell was openly exposed unilateralism, accommodation of the aggressor and presentation of a completely distorted reality. Had Borrell respected the basic principles of neutrality, he would have mentioned to Serbia at least some of these breached Brussels agreements instead of accusing Kosovo,” Osmani wrote on Facebook.

She went on to list some 15 agreements that have been signed but that Serbia has refused to act on. They include non-compliance with the Agreement Implementation Plan, blocking Kosovo’s EU path, blocking energy agreements, preventing free movement of officials, stamping Kosovo court documents in Mitrovica with Serbian stamps, and violations of customs agreement, noting that “the list is longer than this.”

Kurti previously said Borrell made mistakes in prioritising matters relating to negotiations and accused him of forgetting the Franco-German proposal, which ultimately saw Belgrade recognise Pristina.

He then added on Thursday that no deal on license plates was reached, instead both sides agreed to stop certain actions,

“Last night’s agreement is not an agreement about license plates. We agreed to stop mutual actions, so we will not issue fines for KM license plates, and we will give space to the negotiation of the European proposal, which was earlier called Franco-German”, he said.

Hovenier said the US appreciates the constructive approach and flexibility that resulted in the agreement, which he said increases security and would advance efforts to normalise relations.

“We appreciate the constructive approach and flexibility that resulted in this important agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. The agreement increases security and advances efforts to normalise relations,” he wrote.

The agreement was also welcomed by the Serbian List ethnic-Serb political group in Kosovo. They said that those with Yugoslavia plates will continue to use them and be allowed to extend their validity, even after they expire.

“We want to inform the citizens that all owners of vehicles with KM license plates (Mitrovica e Kosova) will be able to operate normally, and when their existing registration expires, they will be able to extend the validity of the registration as before”, the List wrote on Facebook.

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi, who sat at the negotiating table in Brussels, said now an agreement had been reached, it is necessary to continue talks on the EU proposal, backed by Germany and France, to obtain the full normalisation of relations.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)

Source: euractiv.com

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