Ukraine welcomes Kosovo's decision to postpone Serb car re-registration, ‘disrupting Russia's plans for escalation’ in Balkans

2 August, 12:08 PM
Kosovo policemen patrol a road in the country on Aug. 1 (Photo:REUTERS/Fatos Bytyci)

Kosovo policemen patrol a road in the country on Aug. 1 (Photo:REUTERS/Fatos Bytyci)

Ukraine welcomes the decision of Kosovo to postpone the start of the re-registration of Serbian car license plates and documents, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website on Aug. 1

The ministry said Pristina's decision was a compromise, and called on the parties to enter a “constructive dialogue for the security of all citizens, the preservation of peace, and to guarantee the stable development of the Western Balkans.”

“It is (also) important not to give the Russian Federation space to implement its policy of escalation in the region,” the ministry added.

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Kosovo is a partially recognized Balkan state, the independence of which has been recognized by more than 100 UN member states (although Ukraine is not one of them). Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, considering it an autonomous region of Serbia called “Kosovo and Metohija.”

Ethnic Serbs in the north of Kosovo also do not recognize the authorities in Pristina, and use Serbian documents and car license plates.

An agreement between Serbia and Kosovo concluded in 2011, provided for the temporary (for a period of five years) use of “neutral” documents and license plates by residents of northern Kosovo. From Aug. 1, 2022, “neutral” (or Serbian) documents in Kosovo were to become invalid, and all Serbian citizens were to receive an additional document allowing entry at the border (the same measure is already in force in Serbia for people with Kosovo documents).

However, on July 31, the day before the new rules took effect, Serbs in Kosovo blocked a number of key roads and border crossings. Kosovo police later reported shots being fired by Serbian protesters, as well as clashes with Kosovo Albanians.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic made several late-night addresses, declaring that “we have never been in a more difficult situation than today.”

On the night of Aug. 1, the Kosovo government postponed the decision on re-registration of cars with Serbian license plates and licenses until Sept. 1. After this decision, the protesters dismantled some of the barricades, which allowed two border crossing points with Serbia to reopen, writes news agency Reuters.

Kosovo’s Interior Ministry said that 11 civilians had been injured as a result of the border incident.

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