Concern grows over new Kosovo car plates

20/04/2012

Pristina says that car plates issued in Serbia are illegal and will be confiscated.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 20/04/12

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Authorities are requiring that all vehicles registered in Kosovo carry new licenses issued by the interior ministry. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]

Kosovo is rolling out new license plate regulations that will require all cars registered in the country to display plates issued by the Interior Ministry as of June 1st. Car owners have two choices: the Kosovo (KS) and Republic of Kosovo (RKS) car plate.

The law will allow police to stop cars with the old car plates, confiscate them, and cite car owners for violations. The issue is raising concerns particularly in the Serb-dominated north, as license plates issued by Serbia will soon be illegal. Local Serb leaders have urged the Serbs not to register for Kosovo documents, Kosovo car plates, or driving licenses issued by Pristina authorities.

The Serb mayors in the north blame the agreements struck between Kosovo and Serbia, via EU mediation, for the current situation.

"The agreements that the Belgrade team chief Borislav Stefanovic reached in Brussels have made life harder for the Serbs in Kosovo, especially the Freedom of Movement Agreement which envisages changing their citizenship to 'Kosovar,' " Zubin Potok Mayor Slavisa Ristic said, according to B92.

In December 2011, Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement on freedom of movement by which Kosovo RKS car plates are substituted with temporary car plates when entering Serbian territory at the border.

"For people travelling with RKS license plates, the temporary plates will be made available at the crossing points," the EU said after the agreement was reached.

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Mitrovica resident Stojan M., who asked his full name be withheld for safety reasons, said he is not sure what will happen. "People in the north are not ready to register their cars with the Kosovo institutions car plates. We have just issued the car plates of our settlements from the institutions of Serbia. I don't see why Kosovo police think they have the right to take them away from us and impose Kosovo car plates," he told SETimes.

Stojan added that car plates issued by Serbian authorities are "legal" and that he does not need Kosovo car plates in the north. "This is the situation here. I might eventually have problems if I travel with [Serbian car plates] in the south; therefore I will be careful, and find other ways of travelling when I want to travel through Kosovo for Vidovdan, or visit friends," Stojan said.

New RKS Kosovo car plates were introduced in December 2010. Car plates with the KS were issued earlier, by the UN administration in Kosovo, from 1999 to 2010. Serbia still accepts KS insignia car plates for travel in Serbia.

"Cars with Serbian number plates issued to residents of Serbia, and cars with KS vehicle license plates issued in Kosovo will be able to travel freely in or through the territory of either Kosovo or Serbia," according to the EU.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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