Thousands of Kosovo Serb women walked the streets of Mitrovica demanding an easing of tensions between Belgrade and Pristina — as a dispute over car license plates threatens to spark unrest.
The protesters objected to the planned punishments by the Kosovo authorities for those who refuse to change their registration plates issued by Belgrade, and against the cruelty they say the authorities in Pristina face on a daily basis.
“We’ve had enough of everything,” said one protester, who added that she wanted to live in peace.
Long-simmering tensions between Serbia and its former province have risen again in recent weeks over the Kosovo government’s decision to ban Serbian-issued license plates.
Kosovo, which Serbia still does not recognize, wants the approximately 10,000 Kosovo Serbs whose vehicles have Serbian plates to be replaced with plates from the Republic of Kosovo.
The gradual plan includes warnings, fines and a possible driving ban for refusing to change.
The two sides have failed to reach a long-term agreement on the issue, despite mediation by both the EU and the US.
The first diplomat of the European Union, Josep Borrell, held long talks with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo on Monday and blamed them for the failure to resolve the dispute.
Some 3,700 NATO peacekeepers are still deployed in Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. But some now fear the standoff could lead to sectarian violence between the region’s two communities.
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