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21 Nov, 2022 13:59

Serbia-Kosovo negotiations ‘a failure’ – media

The two sides have not reached an agreement on Pristina’s plans to ban Belgrade's license plates
Serbia-Kosovo negotiations ‘a failure’ – media

EU-sponsored talks between Serbia and its breakaway region of Kosovo have flopped, the country's media outlets reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources. The negotiations, in Brussels, came ahead of a new deadline for implementing Pristina’s controversial plan to phase-out Serbian license plates, which is firmly opposed by Belgrade

“The solution that has been proposed nullified the Brussels Agreement, which Serbia cannot accept,” an unnamed source told the newspaper Blic. “It seems that difficult and uncertain days await us, especially in the north of Kosovo and Metohija.”

The 2013 Brussels Agreement provided a roadmap to normalize relations between the government of Serbia and the authorities of the breakaway region. Belgrade has repeatedly said it has met all of its obligations, while accusing Kosovo of jeopardizing the deal. Back in March, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claimed the Brussels Agreement effectively no longer existed.

Vucic is expected to address the nation over the talks failure late in the day, according to the newspaper. Speaking to local media on Sunday, the president warned Kosovo may turn into “hell on earth” should the local authorities not abandon their registration plates plan.

In recent months, Pristina has repeatedly tried to enforce its license plates plan, sparking tensions in the regions. Under the scheme, which affects some 10,000 drivers in the region, the Serbia-issued plates would need to be replaced by Kosovo-issued ones by April 21 of next year.

Drivers who fail to comply are set to first receive a warning, before subsequently incurring a €150 fine in the second instance, and have their vehicle confiscated should they continue to sport Serbian registration plates. Pristina is expected to begin enforcing the fines on Tuesday.

An attempt to enforce the scheme back in July nearly resulted in fighting between Serbia and the breakaway region, with a crisis narrowly avoided through the intervention of European and American diplomats. In early November, ethnic Serbs resigned en-masse from government posts in Kosovo after a local police chief was fired by Pristina over his refusal to enforce the license plates plan.