The warnings of an armed conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, due to the decisions on Kosovo’s car license plates, has fueled another disinformation campaign, which has managed to get even the media in Albania involved. The narrative originated by some Serbian media, sometimes copy-pasted by the Albanian ones, presents the decision of Prime Minister Albin Kurti as unlawful. This is a dangerous rhetoric, which is repeated even though, in previous cases, as reported by Faktoje, these news that caused panic, have turned out to be incorrect.
In June 2022, Kosova government issued the first warning for drivers whose vehicles still carry Serbian, and not Kosova (RKS) license plates. As Faktoje explained in a previous article, this decision, which affects about 10,000 vehicles owned mainly by Kosovo Serbs, is completely lawful. Since the first warning in June, the full implementation of this decision has been postponed several times at the request of the United States and the European Union, after numerous criticisms from Serbia. In July, implementation was postponed to September 1st, and then to November 1st. In both cases, the Albanian media have fallen prey to a dangerous rhetoric that follows the narrative of Serbia, where the decision is presented not only as unlawful, but also as a trigger for an armed conflict between the two states.
Faktoje has previously reported why warnings of war between Kosovo and Serbia are not true. However, again this time, with November 1st approaching, Serbian media published war chronicles, with speeches by the Serbian government about the extermination of Serbs, images of burning cars without clear details, news about the mobilization of Serbian troops on the border, or inexistent drones in the Serbian sky. Now that the deadline has expired and Albin Kurti’s government has set April 2023 as the new deadline for the citizens of Kosova, these news caused uncertainty, but again turned out to be incorrect.
Kurti wants to suppress the Serbs of Kosova – says the Director of the Office for Kosovo in the Government of Serbia, Petar Petkovic.
Based on the Serbian portal RTS , some Albanian media published the speech given by the Director of the Office for Kosovo in the Government of Serbia, Petar Petkovic, on the license plate decision. In this speech, Petkovic described the decision as violent and “contrary to all the agreements signed so far.” This part of the speech has already been rejected by Faktoje, in an article where it is shown how the agreements signed between Serbia and Kosovo since 2011 and beyond make it possible for Kosovo to implement this policy.
But in his speech, Petkovic did not stop there. He also said that Albin Kurti’s government seeks to oppress and expel the Serbian population from Kosovo, a statement for which there is no evidence except repeated claims over the years by both him and other Serbian politicians. However, the Kosovar Prime Minister has said the opposite in a press statement where he gave details on the implementation of the plan for the replacement of license plates.
“These are not measures against the Serbs, on the contrary, these are measures for the Serbs. Measures that provide them with financial facilitation and we are interested in everyone being equal. We cannot be equal in the Republic if some have RKS plates, while other wants to still carry the KM ones. So, it’s neither revenge, nor hatred, or anger, it’s the implementation of the law, it’s order, it’s government decisions that don’t discriminate people based on ethnicity,” Kurti said on October 25.
Vucic and Serbia threaten Kosovo over the implementation of the decision on license plates
There have also been many news describing the mobilization of the Serbian army on the border with the north of Kosovo, describing it as a threat to the latter.
Something new to these reports was the news about Vucic having ordered MiG-29 jets to be mobilized to destroy “any hostile drones over Serbia.” Even though in this case Vucic did not refer to Kosova, the date of the statement (November 1) leaves no doubt about the intention of this statement. This is a repeated tactic of Serbia, which even as September 1 approaches, has brought the army to the border with Kosovo as a method of threat.
However, these threats have never gone any further, and despite statements from politicians and the media, the conflict has not led to the violation of borders. However, certain incidents did take place in the north, within the community and without the intervention of the Serbian army. Several cases have been recorded of people who changed the license plates and had their cars burned as revenge.
Russia blames the West for leading Kosovo and Serbia to war
On November 8, the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, gave a statement on her country’s position on the situation between Kosovo and Serbia after the Serbian members leaving Kosovo’s institutions.
As the portals report, Zakharova has referred to the EU and the US as the masters of Kosovo, and has said that the situation is worsening due to the influence of the West, adding that they do not want the conflict to be resolved.
“We are alarmed by the worsening of the situation in Kosovo, where the so-called “authorities” of Pristina have freely escalated the conflict,” said Zakharova.
Zakharova’s speech contradicts the reality on the ground, where not only the EU and the US, but also NATO have asked both sides to sit down in dialogue in order for the situation not to escalate. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made this message clear on Twitter after a meeting with Vucic and Kurti.
Moreover, it was precisely the EU and the USA that pushed the Kosova government towards compromise, asking them to postpone the implementation of the license plate decision from June (and not only in this case) to August next year. They have also expressed their disappointment when Kurti set April 2023 as the next expiry date.