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Home World News Washington Post World News EU in talks with Serbia and Kosovo amid rising tensions

EU in talks with Serbia and Kosovo amid rising tensions

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BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat held talks with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels on Monday, in a bid to ease tensions between neighboring countries in the Balkans amid their dispute over license plates.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell had scheduled separate talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti for a joint meeting later in the day.

The EU said that “the focus of the emergency meeting will be on finding a way out of the current crisis and preventing further escalation and tensions on the ground, focusing on number plates and the return of Kosovo Serbs to Kosovo institutions.”

The EU warned Serbia and Kosovo last week that they are on the brink of a cliff and must resolve their dispute or face a return to their violent past.

Long-simmering tensions between Serbia and its former province have been heightened in recent weeks by the Kosovo government’s decision to ban Serbian-issued number plates, in line with Serbia’s ruling years ago on number plates in Kosovo.

On November 5, 10 Serbian lawmakers, 10 prosecutors and 576 police officers in Kosovo’s northern Mitrovica region submitted their resignations over the move.

According to the ban, some 6,300 ethnic Serbs who owned cars with plates considered illegal in Kosovo were to be warned until Monday’s deadline and then fined for two months. From April 21, they can only drive with temporary local license plates.

The question of Kosovo’s independence led to a war in 1998-1999 in which about 13,000 people died. Serbia launched a brutal crackdown to curb a separatist uprising by the area’s ethnic Albanians. NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 to end the war.

Kosovo unilaterally broke away from Serbia in 2008. The Serbian government, backed by China and Russia, has refused to recognize the state of Kosovo. The United States and most of its European allies recognize Kosovo as an independent country.



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