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Kosovo’s government delayed the implementation of new border rules for ethnic Serbs living in the country’s north, following a series of protests that risked flaring up ethnic tensions in the small Balkan nation, Euronews reported Monday.
Ethnic Serbs blocked traffic at two border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo on Sunday, prompting authorities to close them. Police said there were shots fired but no injuries were reported.
The unrest began after the government in Pristina announced new rules that would require ethnic Serbs to replace their Serbian license plates with ones from Kosovo. The government also said that all Serbian citizens visiting Kosovo must get an extra document at the border to permit them to enter the country.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti noted that Serbia requires the same from Kosovo citizens entering Serbia, according to Al Jazeera.
Following the weekend tensions and meetings with EU and US diplomats, Kosovo said it would grant Serbs a 60-day transitional period to get Kosovo license plates. Meanwhile, the extra document requirement for Serbian citizens will take effect on Sept. 1.
The recent flare-up highlights ongoing tensions between ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo and the ethnic Albanian majority in the country.
More than 50,000 Serbs continue to use number plates and documents issued by Serbian authorities, even though Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
More than 100 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence – but not Serbia nor Russia.