Following the increased tensions and a raft of discussions with the EU and US early on Monday, Kosovo’s government postponed until September 1 its plans to oblige Serbs in the north of the country to apply for Pristina-issued documents.
Tensions were reignited amid the new regulation Kosovo’s government imposed that will compel people entering Kosovo with Serbian IDs and car license plates to replace them with Pristina-issues temporary documents to grant them permission to enter, and plates during their stay there.
Belgrade authorities apply a similar rule to Kosovars who visit Serbia.
A year after giving up trying to impose them due to similar protests, the government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti said it would give Serbs a transitional period of 60 days to get Kosovo license plates.
The new regulation was set to take effect on Aug. 1.
Some 50,000 ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo use Serbian license plates and documents, refusing to recognize Kosovo’s institutions fourteen years after it declared independence from Serbia.
To protest the new rule, the Serbs blocked on Sunday two key border crossings with Serbia, Jarinje and Bernjak, parking trucks filled with gravel and other heavy machinery on roads leading to the territory where Serbs form a majority, and were advising travelers to use other points.
Several Albanians reported being assaulted and their cars attacked in the tense northern region and shots were fired at police on Sunday while air raid sirens wailed for more than three hours in the majority Serb town of Mitrovica.
Previously on Sunday, NATO said in a statement it was monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to intervene if stability is jeopardized via KFOR following the increased tensions in the northern municipalities of Kosovo in response to the new regulation on IDs.
NATO’s statement noted that the KFOR Commander is in close contact with the Serbian of Defense as well as the representatives of the Kosovo security organizations and maintains a visible and agile posture on the ground.
The NATO-led peacekeeping force Kosovo Force Pristina (KFOR) was established in 1999 with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1244 due to the worsening humanitarian crisis at the time.