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How Permanent is the License Plate Agreement Between Kosovo and Serbia?

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Following Kosovo’s refusal to withdraw its decision on license plates on November 21, 2022, the European Union (EU) mediated urgent solution-oriented negotiations in Brussels to prevent further escalation. However, as these discussions did not produce positive results, global concern grew. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) urged the parties to keep calm following the Brussels discussions and thus indicated that they were on high alert in Kosovo’s north.

With the Brussels talks, where the EU’s proposal was rejected, the United States of America (US) stepped in for an urgent solution. At the request of the US, the Government of Kosovo postponed the second part of the three-stage implementation plan on license plates (fining owners of vehicles without Republic of Kosovo (RKS) license plates) for 48 hours.

After the Pristina government agreed to the US proposal, there was a flurry of diplomatic activity between Kosovo and Serbia. Because, as Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti stated, “we are making every effort and require all possible international and local support to reach an agreement within 48 hours.”[1]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on the other hand, claimed that talks with Pristina are still ongoing without providing any details.[2] So much so that the two countries reached a consensus on November 24, 2022, to reduce the tension in the license plate crisis. According to this agreement, Serbia agreed to issue license plates representing Kosovo cities, while Kosovo resolved to stop issuing vehicle licenses.[3] To avoid the situation from escalating in the region where heated developments were taking place, the region was put on high alert and significant attempts were made to address the problem through dialogue.

On the other hand, Kurti stated that Kosovo and Serbia will reach a final agreement to normalize relations before the spring of 2023.[4] Vucic, on the other hand, claimed that international actors were siding with Pristina in the discussions and declared that Kosovo Serbs would not return to Kosovo institutions unless the Association of Serb Municipalities was established, which is the second condition in addition to license plate fines.[5]

According to the statements made by the presidents of the two nations following the agreement, the parties are not completely satisfied. Because the agreement on license plates is regarded as a forced arrangement imposed by the EU and the US. In other words, while the agreement in question paves the path for the normalization of ties between the two nations, reaching a final agreement seems difficult. As a result, the current picture indicates that Pristina and Belgrade still have a long way to go in terms of normalization.

It should be noted that the EU is widely seen as having performed poorly in the Kosovo-Serbia crisis. Indeed, the parties have not embraced the various solution proposals that have been debated for months, and no concrete results have emerged from the negotiations. Thus, there is talk about the EU losing its place to the US during the crisis. The Washington administration gave results in not escalate the crisis and led the two countries to an agreement that prevented possible protests in the north of Kosovo. Vucic talked to Kosovo Serb leaders and said that they should remain calm. Undoubtedly, this statement was an important development.

Based on the developments, the tension between the two countries seems to have decreased, at least for a while. However, it is believed that the decisions made will only provide a temporary solution. Although the parties promised to normalize relations, it can be foreseen that some conflicts will continue. Because while Serbia demands the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities from Kosovo, Kosovo strongly opposes it. The Belgrade administration seized an important opportunity for the establishment of the association. Because it is well known that the EU and the US stance on this subject align with Serbia’s and has previously exerted pressure on the Pristina government on the issue. Therefore, Belgrade may request that the EU and the US intensify pressure on Pristina about Kosovo failing to fulfill its commitments under the agreement, such as the Association of Serb Municipalities.

However, the EU can use their membership goals to warn both countries to avoid conflicts. For example, Czechia’s EU Presidency informed the Committee of Permanent Representatives that the decision to provide visa exemption to Kosovo had been taken off the agenda.[6] The EU made its decision owing to tensions in Kosovo’s north. As a result, the fact that the EU, which considers the visa exemption and the dialogue process independently, decided to be influenced by the dialogue process for the first time sends a message to the parties to avoid causing more issues.

In conclusion, the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on license plates on 24 November 2022 reduced the escalating tension in the region. However, it can be argued that disagreements will continue to occur during the dialogue process for the normalization of relations between the two countries.


[1] “Kurti: Every International Support Needed for Agreement within 48 Hours”, N1, https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kurti-every-international-support-needed-for-agreement-within-48-hours/, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

[2] “Vučić najavio nastavak pregovora s Kosovom, no bez dodatnih detalja”, Al Jazeera Balkans, https://balkans.aljazeera.net/videos/2022/11/22/vucic-najavio-nastavak-pregovora-s-kosovom-no-bez-dodatnih-detalja, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

[3] “Kosovo and Serbia Reach Deal on Licence Plate Dispute-Borrell”, Euronews, https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2022/11/24/kosovo-and-serbia-reach-deal-on-licence-plate-dispute-borrell, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

[4] “Kosovo PM: Agreement on Normalization with Serbia Before Spring 2023”, N1, https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-pm-agreement-on-normalization-with-serbia-before-spring-2023/, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

[5] “Vucic, Kosova ile Varılan Anlaşmayı Değerlendirdi”, Balkan News, https://www.balkannews.com.tr/sirbistan/vucic-kosova-ile-varilan-anlasmayi-degerlendirdi-h5074.html, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

[6] “AB’den Kosova’ya Ceza: Vize Muafiyeti Kararı Gündemden Kaldırıldı”, Balkan News, https://www.balkannews.com.tr/kosova/ab-den-kosova-ya-ceza-vize-muafiyeti-karari-gundemden-kaldirildi-h5061.html, (Date of Accession: 28.11.2022).

Sibel MAZREK
Lisans eğitimini Gazi Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi'nde tamamlayan Sibel Mazrek, yüksek lisans eğitimine Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü'nde Gazetecilik Ana Bilim Dalı'nda devam etmektedir. Çeşitli medya kuruluşlarında muhabirlik, spikerlik sunuculuk görevlerini üstlenen Mazrek, ANKASAM'da Medya Koordinatörü olarak çalışmalarına devam etmektedir.