Serbs in northern Kosovo quit government jobs in protest of license plates News
A long-running license plate dispute is fueling ethnic tensions between Serbia and its former state of Kosovo.
Minority Serbs in northern Kosovo say they are leaving their positions in state institutions, including the government, police and courts, to protest the use of new Pristina-issued car number plates.
After a meeting of Serbian political representatives in the north of Kosovo, the Minister of Communities and Returns, Goran Rakic, has announced that he is resigning from his position in the government of Pristina.
He told reporters that colleagues from the 50,000-strong Serb minority in the north had also quit their jobs in municipal administrations, courts, police and Pristina’s parliament and government.
Has a long-standing series of license plates raised tensions Between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo, which gained independence in 2008 and is home to a small ethnic Serb minority in the north, supported by Belgrade.
Kosovo, which is predominantly ethnic Albanian, has tried to force some 50,000 ethnic Serbs to accept Pristina’s rule over routine bureaucratic matters after a 10-year rebellion against repressive Serbian rule.
Kosovo’s government has announced this month it will start imposing fines on Serbian drivers using old pre-independence number plates and confiscate vehicles whose registration numbers have not been changed by April 21, 2023.
Rakic said they would not consider returning until Pristina lifted the order. They also demanded the creation of a union of Serbian municipalities, which would give Serb-majority regions greater autonomy, he said.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti urged the Serbs “not to boycott and renounce the institutions of Kosovo.”
“They serve all of us, each of you. Do not become a victim of political manipulations and geopolitical games,” Kurti added in a Facebook post.
Kosovo’s main backers, the United States and the European Union, urged Kurti to delay the implementation of license plates for another 10 months, but he refused.
in September when Kurti announced October 31 as the deadline for drivers, he described the decision as “nothing more or less than an expression of the exercise of sovereignty”.
Blerim Vela, chief of staff to Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, tweeted that Belgrade was “forcing and inducing Kosovo Serbs to leave their jobs in Kosovo institutions.”
In Serbia, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said her government “stands with our brave and proud people of Kosovo.”
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