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The Serbs surrender, appear near the checkpoints to be equipped with Kosovo license plates

The Serbs surrender, appear near the checkpoints to be equipped with Kosovo

December 1 is the deadline for Serbian residents in the north of Kosovo to replace their car plates with the initials "KM" issued by Serbia, with license plates of the Republic of Kosovo, with the initials "RKS".

Authorities in Kosovo welcome the increased interest of Serbian residents to register cars with legal license plates.

The license plate issue was one of the main causes of tensions between Pristina and Belgrade.

Svetolik Radovanovic is one of many Serbian residents in northern Kosovo who registered his car with legal license plates earlier this week, ahead of the December 1 deadline.

An increasing number of Serbian residents have been seen at technical vehicle checkpoints in North Mitrovica, to register and change their car plates.

"I am changing the license plates of the car from KM to RKS. The process is going well, there is a little wait but good. The reason why I am changing the license plates is because I will not be able to drive with the KM license plates", says Mr. Radovanovic.

A group of them were lured by the financial aid of the Kosovo government for those who register their cars until October 31, avoiding paying taxes and the car registration fee.

"We welcome the will, recently increased, of the members of our community in the four northern municipalities for the registration of cars, in accordance with the last decision of the government of the Republic of Kosovo. So far, about 3,000 citizens have registered their vehicles, benefiting from the financial relief offered by this process", says Nora Fetoshi, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

After the deadline, any "KM" license plate will be illegal. Only cars with license plates of the Republic of Kosovo or "RKS" will be allowed on the road.

"After December 1, i.e. after the deadline, the Kosovo police will not block the north. The Kosovo Police will consider these as unregistered vehicles. So they should not be in circulation. Police officers will stop these cars, take their license plates, give penalties for not registering the car, but the owner of the car will be allowed to drive off the road. If we see the same car again on the road, we will certainly take it," said Veton Elshani, spokesman for the North Mitrovica Police, for the Associated Press news agency.

The license plate issue was one of the reasons for the resignation of four mayors of municipalities with a Serbian majority last year.

They opposed the Kosovo government's decision to ban the use of license plates issued by Serbia.

Kosovo Serb legislators, prosecutors and police officers also abandoned their posts from local bodies.

Tensions in the north of Kosovo increased in particular after the September 24 attack by a group of armed Serbs, where a Kosovo policeman and three of the perpetrators of the attack were killed as a result.

Kosovo has blamed Serbia for the attack. The responsibility for it was taken by Milan Radoicic, former vice-president of Lista Serbe, the main party of Serbs in Kosovo. Belgrade denies having anything to do with the attack./ VOA

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