Vehicles are moving across two contentious crossings along the Kosovar-Serbian border without issue as a new measure requiring vehicles to cover up the two countries’ state symbols on license plates went into effect.
Automobiles with their license plates bearing white stickers were moving from both sides of the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings on October 4, and Kosovar police said the new measure was also being implemented at the four other crossings with Serbia.
The decision to cover up the state symbols came as the result of last week’s EU-mediated negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade intended to defuse a heated dispute over license plates.
The dispute erupted on September 20 after Kosovar authorities ordered all drivers entering Kosovo from Serbia to use temporary, 60-day, printed license plates in response to measures in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo that have been in place since 2008, when the country declared independence from Belgrade.
Serbs from northern Kosovo blocked the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings with vehicles and makeshift barricades, while Kosovo's government sent in police units and Serbian military jets and helicopters buzzed the border in a show of force.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, nor its right to impose rules and regulations such as registering cars and trucks.
On October 2, the two crossings were reopened to traffic as ethnic Serb protesters removed vehicles, workers dismantled their barricades, Kosovar special police units withdrew, and NATO troops deployed there in keeping with the EU-brokered deal.
Besnik Bislimi, the deputy prime minister of Kosovo and head of the Kosovo delegation for dialogue with Serbia, told RFE/RL on October 1 that Kosovo has 300,000 packages of stickers to be pasted over state symbols on license plates.
The Serbian government also announced it would provide stickers for all Serbian-registered vehicles seeking to cross into Kosovo from its side.