The NATO Force to Kosovo (KFOR) announced this Sunday at the last minute that “it is ready to intervene” in the event that stability in northern Kosovo is jeopardized, after Serbs from northern Kosovo have cut off two border crossings linking the region with Serbia.
“KFOR will take all necessary measures to maintain a safe environment in Kosovo at all times, in accordance with its UN mandate”, it has made known in a statement on its Twitter account, after the increase the tensions in the north of Kosovo registered in the last hours.
The dispute has begun as a way of protesting the entry into force this Monday of a new Kosovar regulation on identity documents and license plates by which those who enter the country from Serbia They will have to surrender their Serbian IDs for Pristina-issued IDs valid for three months.
Also, Serbian-issued car license plates for Kosovar-majority cities Serbian populationthey will have to be replaced by the official ones from Kosovo from August 1st. These measures respond in reciprocity to the policy applied by Serbia to the citizens of Kosovo who visit Serbia, according to the radio station Radio Free Europe.
Until now, Kosovo has considered license plates with the initials of the cities of Kosovska Mitrovica (KM), Pristina (PR), or Urosevac (UR) illegal, but has tolerated their use in the four Serbian-majority municipalities. The license plates will now have to bear the acronym of the Republic of Kosovo (RKS). The deadline for the change ends on September 30.
For this reason, KFOR has ensured that it is ready to intervene in the event that stability in northern Kosovo is put at risk, and has recalled thatNATO is “closely monitoring” the situationin accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.
“The NATO-led KFOR mission is focusing on the daily implementation of its mandate KFOR maintains a visible and agile posture on the ground, and the Commander of KFOR is in contact with all its main interlocutors, including the representatives of the Kosovo security organizations and the Serbian Chief of Defense”, the unit detailed in the letter.
In this sense, < strong>NATO has shown its full support for the normalization process between Pristina and Belgrade through the dialogue facilitated by the European Union, and has called on all parties to continue negotiations.
“It is important that this continues. It is essential for regional peace and security. There will be no real prospects for a better future in the Balkans if Human Rights and values are not fully respected. democracy, the rule of law, internal reforms and good neighborly relations. Constructive dialogue is key to regional stability,” KFOR added in its letter.
The conflict between both parties began in September 2021, when Kosovo ordered required all drivers entering the country from Serbia to use provisional plates valid for 60 days, a measure that was already in place for drivers entering Serbia from Kosovo since 2008.
Five countries of the EU, including Spain, do not recognize the 2008 Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence. The EU, however, acts as a mediator in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, on which the general normalization of relations and the possibilities of accession of both countries to the community bloc would depend.
The EU diplomatic initiative, which reactivated the The dialogue process in 2020 seeks that the two parties normalize their relations in binding terms and in accordance with international standards, something that it considers a 'sine qua non' condition for the European path.