Delays At Serbia-Kosovo Border As Pristina Presses 'Reciprocal' Removal Of License Plates
Tensions rose at Kosovo's Merdare border crossing with Serbia on September 20 as Kosovar authorities enforced a policy requiring the removal of Serbian license plates from vehicles entering their country. Truck and car drivers said it took them between 10 and 30 minutes to have their Serbian-issued license plates replaced with the new temporary plates mandated by the government of Kosovo, at a cost of 5 euros. The tensions are part of a spat between the two sides over reciprocal recognition of license plates in the context of a wider dispute over sovereignty. For years, Serbian authorities have insisted on the removal of Kosovar license plates that cross their mutual border. A Kosovar special police unit was deployed with armored vehicles to two other border crossings, Jarinje and Brnjak, apparently in response to protests by hundreds of ethnic Serb residents of Kosovo, who blocked the checkpoints with their cars.