Kosovo, Serbia agree on an EU-brokered deal to finish a dispute over car licensing plates.
Kosovo and Serbia have reached a deal to finish a long-running dispute over car licence plates that the European Union had warned might set off ethnic violence.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s overseas coverage chief, introduced the settlement on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We have a deal,” Borrell mentioned.
“Very pleased to announce that chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation,” he mentioned.
Serbia and Kosovo, which declared itself unbiased from Belgrade in 2008, will now deal with an EU proposal on the way to normalise their relations, Borrell mentioned.
Kosovo’s declaration of independence is recognised by about 110 international locations however not by Serbia, Russia, China and 5 EU member states.
The newest dispute between the Western Balkan neighbours erupted after the federal government in Pristina tried to require its Serb minority to change automotive plates courting from earlier than 1999 when Kosovo was nonetheless a part of Serbia.
But Serbs within the northern a part of Kosovo – who refuse to recognise Pristina’s authority and nonetheless think about themselves part of Serbia – have resisted the ban, generally violently.
As an indication of disobedience, near 600 law enforcement officials from Kosovo’s Serb minority, adopted by judges, prosecutors and different state staff stop their jobs earlier this month.
Despite the fierce protests, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti insisted the plan would go forward, earlier than saying on Tuesday he would delay it for 2 days, after he got here underneath strain from the United States.
The dispute additionally sounded alarm bells within the EU, which has been mediating talks to attempt to normalise ties and desires either side to carry off on provocative gestures.
Borrell on Monday, after internet hosting Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels for negotiations on the problem, had mentioned Vucic had been prepared to just accept a compromise however Kurti had not.
Kurti blamed Borrell for focusing solely on the licence plates as an alternative of the complete normalisation of ties between the neighbours.
Vucic mentioned Kurti was chargeable for the failure of the assembly.
On Twitter on Wednesday, Borrell mentioned the deal reached by either side entailed Serbia ceasing to difficulty licence plates with markings indicating Kosovo cities, and Kosovo “will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles”.
Borrell added that he’ll invite each events within the coming days to debate an EU proposal, supported additionally by France and Germany, which is able to enable the foes to normalise relations.
Washington mentioned it welcomed Wednesday’s deal.
“The two parties took a giant step forward today, with EU facilitation, towards assuring peace and stability throughout the region,” mentioned Ned Price, a spokesman for the US Department of State.
“We further commend the two countries’ agreement to concentrate fully and urgently on normalizing relations under the auspices of the EU-facilitated dialogue,” he added.
The difficulty of Kosovo’s independence sparked a warfare between 1998 and 1999 by which about 13,000 individuals died. Serbia launched a brutal crackdown to curb a separatist riot by the territory’s ethnic Albanians.
NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 to finish the warfare.
The safety alliance nonetheless has some 3,700 peacekeepers on the bottom to take care of the delicate peace.