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news 16 Sep 16

Paper License Plates Leave Kosovo Drivers Frustrated

Owing to a bureaucratic bungle, drivers from Kosovo can now only obtain vehicle license plates made of paper, which only Albania will accept - although Wednesday's agreement with Serbia on reciprocal use of licence plates should improve matters.

Die Morina
Border between Kosovo and Serbia |  Photo: BIRN

Agim Demaku, a resident of Pristina, is waiting impatiently in line at the civil registration office for provisional license plates that will enable him to drive abroad.

The contract with the company that supplies permanent plates expired months ago, and for now citizens of Kosovo can only get the temporary ones, which only Albania accepts.

Demaku, 46, told BIRN on Thursday that the delay in solving this problem was doing huge damage to people like him.

“I do not know why the institutions did not take action faster. Apart from Albania, people who have to use these kinds of [temporary] car plates cannot travel anywhere, not even to Macedonia," he said.

"As citizens, we just have to wait because there is nothing we can do about it," Demaku complained.

Since June, Kosovo nationals wanting to register their vehicles have only been able to obtain temporary paper license plates because of delays in the procurement process for the supply of proper plates.

At the civil registration office in Pristina, locals wait in line for the paper plates, which are in danger of dissolving in the rain if left outside. Even with them, they can only drive to Albania.

Asked when the problem would be solved, the Interior Ministry told BIRN that the lack of regular vehicles plates started when the contract for the company that supplied them expired.

The business of selecting a new company is now with the Procurement Review Body.

The ministry explained that the tender to select a new supplier was launched last July but was scrapped in October because none of the would-be suppliers met the required standards.

The ministry told BIRN that, due to these complications, in the meantime it made use of the right to issue emergency supply plates, after signing a contract for proper plates in March.

“Now the process is in the evaluation phase, which is expected to end within days," the ministry assured.

Meanwhile, hope is growing that Kosovo drivers will finally be able to drive to Serbia in their vehicles with Kosovo number plates.

After hours of discussions, Kosovo and Serbia on Wednesday concluded a reciprocity agreement on car license plates.

Minister of Dialogue Edita Tahiri, Kosovo's chief negotiator in the Brussels-led dialogue, said the principle of reciprocity in vehicles license plates between the two countries had been established, which means that both countries will have to accept each other's plates.

This agreement should end the use of "provisional" license plates, which Serbia has insisted on for vehicles with Kosovo registration.

Tahiri said that the consequent removal of "illegal" license plates from circulation among Kososov Serbs would also contribute to the full integration of the Kosovo Serbian community.

This agreement finalizes implementation of the agreement on free movement between Serbia and Kosovo sealed in 2011 in Brussels.

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