Serbia will stop issuing licence plates with Kosovo Cities' denominations and Kosovo will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles," says EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Kosovo and Serbia have reached an 11th-hour deal to end a nearly two-year dispute over car license plates in northern Kosovo, which the West had warned could trigger ethnic violence, the European Union's foreign policy chief said.
"We have a deal," Josep Borrell posted on Twitter on Wednesday after the agreement was reached in Brussels under EU mediation.
"Very pleased to announce that chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalisation of their relations."
Kosovo had planned to start issuing fines from Thursday to some 10,000 Serb drivers who continue to use Serbian-issued car license plates
"Serbia will stop issuing licence plates with Kosovo cities' denominations & Kosovo will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles," Borrell said.
He also added that parties from both sides will be invited in the coming days to discuss the rest of the process.
Car licence plate issue
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have risen since ethnic Serbs in Kosovo withdrew from all central and local institutions in protest over Pristina's decision to replace old car license plates issued by Serbian authorities with those from Kosovo.
Borrell held an emergency meeting focused on dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo to discuss how to find a solution to the license plate crisis.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, with most UN member states including the US, UK, France, Germany and Türkiye recognising it as a separate autonomous country from its neighbour.
But Belgrade continues to regard it as its territory.
Prior to the latest agreement, the second phase of Kosovo's decision on the re-registration of vehicles had been expected to begin Monday, with the owners of vehicles with Serbian license plates set to be fined $154.
Pristina had earlier said that it would start issuing fines this month to Serb drivers using old pre-independence plates and would confiscate vehicles with outdated registration numbers after April 21, 2023.
The EU and NATO had urged both Serbia and Kosovo to refrain from unilateral actions and resolve outstanding issues through dialogue.
Brussels has facilitated the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, which is designed to ease tensions and resolve bilateral issues, one of the requirements for full-fledged EU membership.