Kosovo: Why a license plate spat has sparked ethnic tensions once more

Ethnic tensions over the choice erupted final month when ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, who’re backed by Serbia and don’t acknowledge Pristina’s authority, arrange roadblocks to protest the brand new rule.

Kosovo and Serbia intend to affix the European Union and have agreed, as a part of that membership course of, to resolve their excellent points and construct good neighborly relations.

Listed below are some information in regards to the standoff.

Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008, virtually a decade after a guerrilla rebellion in opposition to Belgrade’s repressive rule.

Serbia, nonetheless, nonetheless considers Kosovo to be an integral a part of its territory and rejects options it’s whipping up tensions and battle inside its neighbor’s borders. Belgrade accuses Pristina of trampling on the rights of minority Serbs.

Ethnic Serbs account for five% of Kosovo’s 1.8 million folks, with ethnic Albanians making up about 90%.

Why did tensions flare once more?

Kosovo has for years needed the roughly 50,000 Serbs who dwell within the north to change their Serbian license vegetation to ones issued by Pristina, as a part of the federal government’s need to claim authority over its territory.

Ethnic Serbs have lengthy refused to acknowledge the authority of Kosovo’s establishments within the north, venting their hostility by refusing to pay Kosovo’s energy operator for the electrical energy they use and incessantly attacking police who attempt to make arrests.

Kosovo’s push final yr to impose the license plates was aborted when ethnic Serbs protested. On July 31 of this yr, Pristina introduced a two-month window for the plates to be converted, triggering new protests.

Tensions eased after Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, beneath US and EU stress, agreed to postpone the change.

What do the Serbs need?

Serbs in Kosovo need to create an affiliation of majority-Serb municipalities that may function with better autonomy. Serbia and Kosovo have made little progress on this and different points since committing in 2013 to the EU-sponsored dialogue.

US troops take part in a KFOR patrol, near Jarinje border crossing in Kosovo on August 18, 2022.

What’s the function of NATO and the EU?

NATO has about 3,700 troops stationed in Kosovo to keep up the peace. The alliance mentioned it will intervene according to its mandate if stability within the space have been jeopardized. The European Union Rule of Legislation Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which arrived in 2008, nonetheless has round 200 particular cops there.