The Stickers of Peace
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Serbia began allowing drivers with Kosovo license plates to enter the country, ending a long-running dispute between the two Balkan neighbors that at times has turned violent, Euronews reported.
Following Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008, the issue of license plates sparked disputes between the two countries over their display of national symbols.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and vehicles from both countries could cross the border only if they placed stickers on their plates to hide the respective symbols.
But from Jan. 1, vehicles with Republic of Kosovo plates can enter Serbian territory without the stickers. Serbian officials added, however, that the move does not mean Belgrade has recognized Kosovo’s statehood.
The European Commission welcomed Serbia’s decision as a positive step to normalizing relations between the Balkan nations.
Even so, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti noted that Pristina would only abolish stickers from Serbian license plates when its independence was respected.
A former Serbian province, Belgrade lost control of the ethnic Albanian-majority territory following the 1998-1999 war against independence fighters, who were helped by an intervention from NATO.
Following the conflict, Kosovo was placed under a United Nations mandate. Nearly a decade later, it declared independence from Serbia.