Serbia allows RKS plates on its territory, EU welcomes and opposition criticizes the move, Pristina asks for more recognitions

RKS tablice

This week, the government of Serbia decided to enable the free movement of all vehicles from Kosovo with RKS license plates. The move was announced by the director of the Office for Kosovo, Petar Petković. He furthermore claimed that it was a product of the Agreement on Freedom of Movement signed in 2011 by today’s opposition leader Borko Stefanović.

The opposition in Serbia, on the other hand, strongly opposed the decision, interpreting it as another step towards the recognition of Kosovo after previous concessions, reminding that Serbs from Kosovo protested, blocked roads, left institutions and boycotted elections over this very issue.

EU hailed the decision, describing it as a positive step towards the implementation of the Agreement on the path to normalization of relations. Pristina said that they forced Serbia to recognize RKS and called on the Serbian government to recognize other Kosovo documents as well.

„At today’s government session, we enabled free movement for all vehicles. It will be an additional impulse, not only for the ‘Open Balkans’, but it will make life easier for Serbs in Kosovo, because they are the ones who use the administrative crossings the most,“ Petar Petković announced on Monday.

He notes that the government of Serbia made the decision keeping in mind its own obligations, as well as Pristina’s obligations, i.e. the expectation that the Kosovo side will start implementing its obligations, including the formation of the ASM.

The head of the Kosovo Office says that it is „no secret“ that 99% of Serbs use RKS license plates, because it is „the only way for them to survive and to move, to be able to live.“

„These plates are used by our monks and clergy of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren, in order to reach their monasteries, holy sites and believers, especially south of the Ibar, where these plates have been used for years.“

He also revealed that another disclaimer is being introduced, which states that the decision on the plates cannot be interpreted as a recognition of independence.

Emphasizing that license plates do not represent a symbol of statehood and sovereignty, he pointed out that the Serbian government adheres to red lines.

The European Union welcomed the decision.

They state that it is a positive step in the implementation of the Agreement on the path to the normalization of relations, as well as the previous obligations of the dialogue regarding freedom of movement.

Although the official Belgrade did not specify, the European Union confirmed for KoSSev that the decision paves the way for the complete abolition of the sticker regime, and announced that they are now waiting for Pristina to make a similar decision.

Opposition in Serbia criticizes

Miroslav Aleksić, the president of the National Movement of Serbia and the head of the „Serbia Against Violence“ list, was one of the first to react. He said that the Serbian government’s decision on the license plates proves that Vučić is „ready to do anything to remain in power.“

„While they are beating students on the streets of Belgrade who are peacefully protesting against electoral theft and demanding the annulment of the stolen elections, they are leaving the Serbs in Kosovo at the mercy of their coalition partner Albin Kurti,“ Aleksić alleged.

At the same time, he reminded the Serbs from Kosovo blocked the roads, left the institutions, boycotted the elections and „handed all the institutions over to the Albanians“ precisely over the license plates issue.

„Of course, all this was done at the recommendation of the great patriot Aleksandar Vučić, for whom all this was obviously a show.“

„We – Voice of the People“ also criticized the move, stating that this decision represents another step in the renunciation of Kosovo by the SNS and SPS.

„From the signing of the Agreement on Integrated Border Management, through the first and second Brussels Agreements, the consequent shutdown of the institutions of the Serbian state in Kosovo and Metohija and the brutal forcing of Serbs from the north of Kosovo into the institutions of the fake state of Kosovo, the provision of a code number, and all the way to the silent handing over of the power system and municipalities in the north and, now, giving up on the ‘status neutral’ plates – SNS and SPS thus participate in the voluntary state renunciation of the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, which has no precedent in our history,“ they said.

The Movement for the Restoration of the Kingdom of Serbia (POKS) reacted in a similar tone, alleging that the decision of the Government of Serbia on RKS plates represents a continuation of the policy of de facto recognition of Kosovo.

„After recognizing Kosovo’s IDs and diplomas, the government of Serbia also recognized their license plates, and the next step is passports, as foreseen by the Franco-German agreement,“ said the president of POKS, and one of the leaders of the NADA coalition, Vojislav Mihailović.

He added that it is no coincidence that this step was taken immediately after the elections in Serbia, noting that the majority of citizens do not support such decisions.

„This is a shameful humiliation of Kosovo Serbs, by the authorities, because not only can they not use KM plates as they used to, but their native country recognizes separatist plates,“ added Mihailović.

„While the uncontrolled violence of the illegal Pristina institutions against the Kosovo Serbs and their property is in full swing, Serbia, no doubt shamefully and cowardly, ‘retaliates’ by recognizing one of the important attributes of the fake state that is being created on its territory,“ the Movement for the Defense of Kosovo and Metohija warned.

They also interpret it as one in a series of „far-reaching steps of Vučić’s creeping capitulation.“

Moreover, they were astonished by the „explanation“ of the head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petković, who said that the decision was made to facilitate the movement of Serbs from Kosovo.

„In addition to the fact that in the last year, as a direct consequence of Vučić’s crawling before Pristina terrorists, the number of remaining Serbs in Kosovo has drastically decreased and continues to decrease, Vučić and his staff persistently hide from the public: that the citizens of Serbia in Kosovo can no longer/ they are not allowed to use legal license plates of the Republic of Serbia,“ they said.

They also recall that until recently, Vučić assured or „purposefully lied“ by saying that Serbian license plates in Kosovo were „defended“.

According to Zavetnici party, the decision of the government of Serbia to recognize RKS license plates is a direct consequence of the implementation of the Franco-German plan.

In their words, this is also another element of „self-proclaimed Kosovo independence“, adding that Kosovo Serbs have been put in a hopeless position by the decision of the authorities in Belgrade to stop issuing Serbian license plates.

„The head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petković, has repeatedly emphasized that Serbia will not allow vehicles bearing the insignia of a fake state to enter Serbia proper, but apparently the government succumbed to pressure from Brussels and accepted the model of reciprocity insisted on by Albin Kurti.“

The People’s Movement of Serbs from Kosovo „Otadžbina“ also reacted.

„After January 1, when the separatists with their symbols of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo parade through Serbia, let the citizens know that this is the political heritage of ‘Aca the Serb’ – a man who stole the elections in his country in a reckless and brutal manner,“ they said in their reaction.

Join the protest, now you can do so with RKS plates

Rada Trajković, advisor to the Kosovo Minister for Communities and Return, commented on the decision of the government of Serbia, speaking about the protests in Serbia.

She invited the students and professors of the University of Kosovska Mitrovica to join the protests in Belgrade, and to „finally decide: will they continue to serve Radoičić and this regime or will they fight for the Constitution and dignity?“

„It’s time for them to join the protest. And now they can go there with RKS license plates,“ said Trajković.

Petković: Hypocrisy

After a slew of criticism arrived from the opposition in Belgrade, the head of the Kosovo Office reacted again with repeated accusations – that Borko Stefanović signed the Agreement on Freedom of Movement in 2011 and accepted RKS license plates, Pristina IDs and driver’s licenses. He also alleged that the recent allegations of the opposition show „all the hypocrisy“ of the representatives of the former regime.

He claimed that this agreement made it possible for Kurti to make a decision on reciprocity, that is, to prevent freedom of movement and to carry out violence against Serbs, and that the government of Serbia has now enabled this freedom of movement and allegedly „made everyday life easier“ for Serbs.

„It is not the first time that the former regime has amnesia and attacks the decisions they made themselves, and which obligations remained in Belgrade even after they left power. How is it while they were in power and recognized ‘RKS’ license plates and Pristina identity cards, it was not recognition of the so-called of Kosovo, and today it is?“ – asked Petković.

On the other hand, he reiterated that license plates „are not a symbol of statehood, just as identity cards are not.“

„If they were, the pressure to recognize the so-called Kosovo would have stopped last year when we enabled the use of Pristina identity cards,“ Petković added.

Petković accused the opposition of trying to „earn cheap political points from the suffering of the Serbian people“. He stated that for the SNS „the welfare of Serbs in Kosovo will always come first.“

The Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Besnik Bislimi, was one of the rare Pristina officials who reacted to the news.

He, however, believes that this move is not an indicator of Belgrade’s constructiveness, but that it is a „mask with which it wants to camouflage the failure in Banjska and the failure of its narrative that was nourished for so long in Brussels.“

While Kurti has remained silent on the issue, his party – the Self-Determination Movement reacted with a statement.

„Our persistence in doing what is right eventually forced Serbia to back down and recognize the RKS license plates,“ they stated.

At the same time, they called on Belgrade to recognize other Kosovo documents as well.

The decision of the Government of Serbia to enable the free movement of all vehicles from Kosovo was made immediately after Serbian license plates with markings of towns in Kosovo practically disappeared from the north – to the silence of the official Belgrade and pro-governmental media.

More than 4,200 people from the north who owned KM plates re-registered their vehicles to RKS, and approximately the same number replaced them with plates with markings of towns in Serbia proper. This process recently ended with the silence of official Belgrade and the absence of interest from the regime media.

The re-registration was preceded by a two-year crisis triggered by Pristina’s decision to fully ban Serbian license plates of towns in Kosovo. However, after the escalation of the situation and the crisis at the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings in the fall of 2021, the problem was resolved by a provisional agreement on the use of a sticker regime.

„We defended the right to freedom of movement, peace was preserved. We gave less than in 2012. The people are relieved,“ Aleksandar Vučić boasted at the time.

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