Serbia’s armed forces have been put on high alert due to the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said on Tuesday.
“The President of the Republic, as commander-in-chief, ordered the Serbian army to be ready, to be alert,” the minister told Serbian TV channel Happy TV.
According to TASS, Vucevic explained that the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is tense and the Kosovars have started to implement the decision to ban Serbian license plates. Nobody wants to fight, he clarified, but “the army is ready to carry out any task.”
As of yesterday, Monday, at midnight, the government’s decision on the mandatory replacement of Serbian license plates began to be implemented in Kosovo. The measure concerns about 6,000 vehicles which are mainly in northern Kosovo, where the Serb population is a majority. These vehicles have license plates issued in central Serbia and do not bear the state insignia RKS (Republic of Kosova). Kosovo Serb representatives said they would not implement the decision and warned they would barricade roads in northern Kosovo if police seized vehicles. In Kosovo today there is tension, but there is calm since for now only recommendations are being made.
Pristina, in order to avoid organized reactions and incidents, as happened in the immediate past, decided to implement the measure gradually, in four phases. In the first phase, from today until November 21, written warnings will be given to the owners of vehicles with Serbian license plates.
Thereafter and until January 21, a fine of 150 euros will be imposed on those who have not complied.
During the third phase, which will last until April 21, the Serbian license plates will be replaced with trial plates issued by the Kosovo police. After April 21, the fourth phase begins, where vehicles with Serbian license plates will be confiscated.
The government of Kosovo did not accept the request of the US to postpone for 10 months the implementation of the measure in order to solve the issue in the framework of the dialogue conducted under the auspices of the European Union.
“We are concerned and disappointed that the government of Kosovo has rejected the request of its closest international allies to delay implementation of the license plate measure,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday night.