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Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement this week to end a long-running dispute over vehicle license plates, which had prompted fears over a potential ethnic conflict breaking out again in the Balkans, Al Jazeera reported Thursday.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, announced the agreement Wednesday following days of negotiations that nearly collapsed after Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti refused to compromise with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The relationship between the neighboring Balkan nations has remained tense after Kosovo – which is predominately ethnic Albanian – declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Around 110 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence – but Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries have not.
The latest dispute began after Kosovo ordered the Serb minority in the country’s north to change their pre-1999 plates in use since when Kosovo was still part of Serbia. But many Serbs – who still consider themselves part of Serbia – have resisted.
The situation escalated earlier this month when hundreds of officials from the Serbian minority – including police officers, judges and prosecutors – resigned in protest.
Despite the intense protests, Kurti persisted in implementing the plan before declaring Tuesday that it would be delayed for two days due to pressure from the US.
Under the new agreement, Serbia will stop issuing license plates with markings indicating Kosovo’s cities, while Kosovo “will cease further actions related to (the) re-registration of vehicles,” according to Borrell.
Borrell added that he will invite both parties to discuss an EU plan in the next few days aimed at normalizing relations between the two nations.