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Kosovo number plates to be recognised in Serbia

Licence plates Kosovo/Serbia
Licence plates Kosovo/Serbia Copyright Visar Kryeziu/AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Visar Kryeziu/AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Serbia has announced that drivers with Kosovo licence plates can enter Serbian territory from 1 January, seemingly ending a years-long dispute that at times has turned violent.

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Following Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, car number plates became a point of contention over their display of national symbols that the former warring foes both object to.

Until now, vehicles from either Kosovo or Serbia could cross the border only if they placed stickers on their plates to hide the respective symbols.

The Serbian Government's Ministry of Internal Affairs posted disclaimers on their website stating that allowing vehicles with Republic of Kosovo plates to enter the Republic of Serbia does not mean recognition of Kosovo's statehood.

An EU Commission spokesperson told media that the EU welcomed Serbia’s decision to formally recognise the Kosovo-issued license plates, describing it as a positive step towards improving and normalising Serbia-Kosovo relations.

Serbia has, however, made it clear that recognition of Kosovo licence plates is not a step towards recognising its independence from Serbia.

On Kosovo's side, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said while he has personally always advocated for a reciprocal relationship between his country and Serbia, Kosovo would only abolish stickers from Serbian licence plates when its independence was respected.

Visa-free travel in the EU for Kosova citizens

Meanwhile, Kosovo citizens can now freely travel to the EU without mandatory Schengen visas for periods of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. 

Under the previous agreement, Kosovar passport holders could travel without a visa only to 14 countries all over the world.

This is a part of the EU-Kosovo deal which is meant to ease travel restrictions for Kosovars to EU countries. According to the European Commission, Kosovo by 2018 had already met all the criteria for the visa-free regime, including border and migration management.

However, the approval has been held up by France and the Netherlands, which were concerned about the possibility of new migration waves as well as by five other EU members; Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

Serbia-Kosovo history is long and complex. In 2008, representatives of the people of Kosovo unilaterally declared Kosovo's independence, following centuries of dispute.

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