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Serbia's Vucic Wary of Tensions in Kosovo After Pristina Enforces License Plate Policy

© Sputnik / Stringer / Go to the mediabankSerbian President Aleksandar Vucic attends the Meeting of the European Political Community in Prague, Czech Republic.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attends the Meeting of the European Political Community in Prague, Czech Republic.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.11.2022
BELGRADE (Sputnik) - Serbian President Alexandar Vucic says that he does not expect the Kosovo authorities to backtrack on their decision to penalize citizens driving with Serbian-issued license plates, warning that the controversial policy may plunge the breakaway province in yet another escalation after November 21.
Vucic said he would take part in a new round of EU-mediated negotiations between Serbia and Pristina on Monday morning. The meeting will focus on the controversial decision to impose fines on drivers that have not swapped Serbian-issued license plates for Kosovo-issued documents. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti is also expected to participate.

"If [Kurti] had wanted to postpone the decision, he would have postponed it earlier. I think the idea is that he was given the opportunity to postpone the supposedly right decision. But Kurti has shown that he does not want Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija," Vucic told local broadcaster.

If Pristina starts to enforce such polarizing policies, escalation in the north of Kosovo becomes inevitable, the Serbian leader said.
"Kosovo police have nothing to do in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, then we will have a 'scorcher' [hell] on the ground... Serbia will be with its people in this case, and Serbs will defend their centers," Vucic said, stressing that Belgrade did its best to preserve peace in the region.
The Kosovo authorities require that local Serbs re-register their car plates, demanding that they feature the EU-standard letter code of RKS (Republic of Kosovo) instead of KM, the Serbian identifier for the disputed region of Kosovska Mitrovica on the border. The deadline for the re-registration was October 31.
On August 27, Belgrade and Pristina reached an EU-brokered compromise deal on entry and exit regulations. Serbia agreed to abolish entry-exit documents for Kosovo ID holders, while Kosovo agreed not to introduce them for Serbian citizens. Belgrade maintains the move is only aimed at streamlining border crossing and does not mean that Serbia recognizes Kosovo's independence.
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