With two weeks to go until the expiration of the temporary agreement signed by Kosovo and Serbia in October 2021 to regulate license plates, a permanent solution has yet to be found.
Since October 2021, representatives from both countries and the EU have met in Brussels to discuss a permanent solution, with the latest meeting taking place on 7 April.
On Twitter, the EU’s special representative for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, urged the parties to collaborate, signalling that an agreement is far from certain.
In September 2021, the government of Kosovo reintroduced reciprocity measures on Serbian cars, requiring vehicles with Serbian license plates to purchase Kosovo license plates when entering the country.
Since a 2011 agreement between the two countries had expired, Kosovo cars travelling to Serbia had been required to do so. Kosovo’s previous government had refrained from reciprocating due to pressure from the Quint countries and for fear it may prove an obstacle to the EU-facilitated dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
The decision of the Kurti government sparked week-long protests in the north, where a majority of Kosovo Serbs reside. The Serbian government of Aleksandar Vucic added fuel to the fire, sending in troops and flying military jets right to the border.
Kurti said that Kosovo would be ready to lift the requirements if Serbia did the same.
Ultimately, the two parties signed a temporary agreement in Brussels whereby cars travelling between the countries would be required to get stickers at the border to cover flags and country names. Meanwhile, representatives from Kosovo and Serbia would meet periodically to deliver a permanent solution by 21 April 2022.
With that deadline approaching, such a solution appears unlikely. Sources told Radio Free Europe that Kosovo has said it is willing to accept several options on the table, while the Serbian side has proved more reticent.
According to the same sources, Kosovo does not want another temporary solution. It will reinstate the license plate requirements if Serbia does not agree to lift its own demands on Kosovo vehicles.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti met with Lajčák at the Delphi Economic Forum on 8 April.
“[Kurti] emphasised that the government of Kosovo is committed to a principled and balanced dialogue. He reiterated that citizens of both countries should benefit from the dialogue through a sustainable and enforceable agreement based on mutual recognition,” stated a press release from his office.