Serbia-Kosovo deal is “common sense”: EU official


The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell commented on Wednesday (November 23) that the deal reached between Kosovo and Serbia was "common sense" as they look to end a nearly two-year dispute over car licence plates in northern Kosovo, which the West has warned could trigger ethnic violence.

Borrell said during a conference that the agreement seems to be a "common sense proposition" after a meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona.

Mr Borrell announced the deal earlier in a video he posted on Twitter when consensus was reached between the parties in Brussels with the EU as a mediator.

Kosovo had planned to start issuing fines from November 24 to some 10,000 Serbs who continue to use Serbian-issued car plates.

A previous option on November 21 failed when Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić were unable to reach a consensus. Then Kosovo was forced to suspend the legislation for 48 hours in response to the U.S. request.

Borrell said he will bring both sides to discuss EU solutions, prepared for support from Germany and France. The proposed measures are to ease tension between the uneasy neighbours.

Kosovo was attempting to require its Serb minority to renew their old registration plates issued before 1999, when Kosovo was a part of Serbia. The Serb minority reacted harshly, at times in a violent manner.

Around 50,000 citizens of Serbian ethnicity who live in Kosovo refuse to recognise the Kosovan government authority by expressing their protest whenever they can, to manifest their ties with Serbia.

As a symbol of the protest, some 600 police officers and public service sector workers had quit their jobs this month.

It is not clear if those who left their jobs will now return or be re-hired by their previous job sectors.

Kosovo and Serbia committed to participating in an EU-sponsored dialogue to resolve issues between the countries, though little progress has been made until today.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and was officially recognised by 110 countries. Serbia, Russia, China and five EU member states do not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

As many as 3,700 soldiers from NATO countries are presently stationed in Kosovo to maintain peace and order after brutal clashes between the Albanians and Serbs in the 1990s.