Kosovo to require temporary IDs for Serbs from August 1

Kosovo to require temporary IDs for Serbs from August 1

From Monday (August 1), Serbian citizens traveling to Kosovo will have to replace their passport with a temporary identity card for the duration of their visit. This measure is part of a logic of reciprocity announced by Prime Minister Abin Kurti.

Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo, its former province which declared independence in 2008, and the country has asked its citizens to provide temporary identity cards for their visit to Serbia.

The decision, initially announced in June, will be applied for all Serbs crossing the country’s border from August 1.

Kosovo was a province of Serbia before a bloody war that took place from 1998 to 1999, during which the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milošević caused the death of more than 13,000 people and pushed more than 1.4 million ‘Ethnic Albanians to flee.

Under the announced new rules, Serbs traveling to Kosovo will receive a temporary identity card, valid for 90 days, which they can use in government institutions.

The news sparked outrage in Serbia, with President Aleksandar Vucic claiming that Mr Kurti was planning an attack on Serbs in northern Kosovo, but did not provide evidence.

The northern part of Kosovo is populated by ethnic Serbs who until 2013 refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence. An EU-brokered agreement formally ended a parallel assembly and structures in northern Kosovo, but it has not been fully implemented.

The introduction of temporary identity cards is the second reciprocity measure Mr. Kurti has imposed on Serbia since he came to power.

In September 2021, his government required cars with Serbian license plates to acquire permits issued by Kosovo.

The license plate issue stems from a bilateral agreement signed in 2011, under which cars from each country were supposed to be able to continue using their own license plates in the territory of the other.

However, Serbia violated this agreement from the outset, requiring vehicles registered in Kosovo to use temporary Serbian plates when crossing the border.

When the agreement expired, Kosovo simply returned the favor to Serbia.

Serbia retaliated by sending troops to its border with Kosovo and sparking protests among Kosovo Serbs.

While the two sides signed a temporary agreement — vehicles traveling between the two countries must affix stickers to their license plates to hide the names and flags of the countries — they have failed to find a permanent solution.

The Pristina government has also called on Serbs living in the north to replace their Serbian-issued license plates with Kosovo plates rather than continuing to use stickers.

For more than ten years, Kosovo and Serbia have been engaged in a dialogue under the aegis of the EU, aimed at normalizing their relations. Unfortunately, progress is scarce and most signed agreements have not been implemented.

The European Union considers the recognition of Kosovo by Serbia as a condition for the country’s accession to the EU. Nevertheless, Belgrade continues to insist that it will never recognize its former province, which it calls Kosovo and Metohija.

Besides Serbia, some EU member states (Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania and Spain) do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.


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