Pristina is postponing until September 1 the implementation of the order of the Kosovo authorities on the introduction of temporary documents that Serbian citizens must receive when entering the region, as well as on the re-registration of cars and the replacement of license plates issued in Serbia to Serbs living in northern Kosovo. Such a statement on the night of Monday, August 1, was made public by the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, specifying that for this the barricades in the north of Kosovo must be removed to organize freedom of movement.
“The Government of Kosovo undertakes from Monday, August 1, 2022, to postpone the implementation of the two decisions of June 29, 2022 until September 1, 2022, when all barricades will be removed and full freedom of movement will be established in the north of Kosovo,” reads a press release issued by Albin Kurti on Twitter.
Borrell welcomes the decision of the Kosovo administration
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell welcomed the Kosovo administration’s decision to delay until September 1 the implementation of its mandatory re-registration plan for Serbian-registered vehicles for new Pristina-issued license plates.
“We expect all roadblocks to be removed immediately,” Borrell wrote on his Twitter, adding that open issues should be resolved through EU-facilitated dialogue and with a view to a comprehensive normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Kosovo and Serbian leaders blame each other for unrest
On Sunday evening, hundreds of ethnic Serbs parked trucks, trucks with oil tanks and other heavy vehicles on the roads in the direction of the Jarine and Brnjak checkpoints on the Serbian border, blocking traffic. A large number of local Serbs gathered around the barricades with the intention of staying there, an AFP correspondent reported.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is to blame for the aggravation of the situation in the region. In his opinion, blocking the highway at the border is a planned action.
As the head of the Kosovo administration noted, his order to re-register cars and replace license plates issued in Serbia to Serbs living in the north of Kosovo with Kosovo ones was a response to the actions of Belgrade, which demands the same from citizens of Kosovo entering Serbia.
Vučić warns Kosovars against attack
In turn, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Sunday that the situation in Kosovo has never been “more difficult” for Serbia and ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo than it is now. “The atmosphere has reached its breaking point,” Vučić said, warning that “Serbia will win” if the Serbs are attacked.
Kurti accused Vučić of instigating “riots”. “The next hours, days and weeks can be difficult and problematic,” the politician wrote on Facebook.
NATO mission in Kosovo was ready to intervene in the conflict with Belgrade
The NATO-led international force (KFOR), responsible for ensuring security in the territory of Kosovo, expressed its readiness to intervene in the border conflict between Belgrade and Pristina in case of a threat to the stability of Kosovo. The organization announced this on Sunday, July 31, on Twitter. “KFOR is ready to intervene if the stability in the north of Kosovo is threatened,” the message says.
As noted in KFOR, the security situation in the municipalities in northern Kosovo remains tense, but KFOR is constantly monitoring and ready to intervene in the framework of UNSCR 1244 of 1999. “Our NATO-led KFOR mission is fully focused on the day-to-day implementation of its UN mandate to ensure a secure environment and freedom of movement for the entire population of Kosovo,” the statement said.
Prior to this, the aggravation of the situation was observed in September 2021
The last time a serious escalation of the situation in the region was observed in September 2021, when hundreds of ethnic Serbs staged daily protests and blocked traffic at two border crossings. Their anger was fueled by Pristina’s decision to require drivers with Serbian license plates to put up temporary plates when entering Kosovo. Those who entered Serbia from Kosovo had to do the same.