Serbian disclaimer on Kosovo border stresses that recognition of Kosovo IDs in no way implies recognition of Kosovo's independence.
Jarinje crossing point between Serbia and Kosovo. Photo: BIRN
As the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on crossing borders using only IDs comes into force tonight, a big disclaimer written in English and Serbian on the Serbian side of the frontier reminds the public of Serbia’s continued non-recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
“Enabling the use of Identity Cards issued by Pristina (Kosovo) is done exclusively for practical reasons, for the purpose of making the position of individuals easier and for enabling their freedom of movement in accordance with the Agreement on Freedom of Movement reached in dialogue in 2011; it cannot be interpreted as recognition of unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo,” the disclaimer reads.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, declared in February 2008, insisting it remains a province of Serbia. The disclaimer confirms this, saying the permitted use of Kosovo IDs in Serbia “is without prejudice to determining Kosovo’s final status”.
The deal reached last weekend in Brussels put an end to a nearly 11-year period when Serbia issued entry-exit documents to Kosovo citizens replacing the IDs issued by Kosovo for their stay in Serbia.
While the issue of IDs now looks settled, it is still not known how or when the Kosovo government’s disputed decision on licence plates will be implemented.
That decision gives Kosovo Serbs two months, until October 31, to exchange their current vehicle plates for Kosovo-issed plates, marked RKS. Serbia-issued plates bear the acronyms of Kosovo towns such as KM, PR, PZ, UR and GL.
The August 27 deal on IDs was the first time Kosovo leader Albin Kurti and Serbia’s Aleksander Vucic had agreed on something more than 13 months since they first faced each other in Brussels.
However, the deal is only an oral agreement. Serbia’s Vucic clarified on Sunday that this is “an oral agreement, the [previous] one in writing was made in 2011”.
The Kosovo government decided in June that every person presenting themselves to cross the state border using personal IDs issued by Serbian authorities will now be issued temporary declaration forms valid for 90 days that replace the Serbian-issued document.
The decision reciprocates Serbia’s non-recognition of Kosovo-issued IDs, introducing the same measure that Serbia has implemented towards Kosovo citizens since 2011.
The changes announced by Kosovo triggered serious tensions in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo around a month ago, when Kosovo Serbs set up barricades and Kosovo police closed the border crossings.
Vucic and Kurti discussed the issue at their unsuccessful meeting on August 18 but found no solution.
Copyright BIRN 2007