Kosovo government holds up debated vote on Montenegro deal

Cheryl Sanders
September 1, 2016

Kosovo's parliament made a decision to postpone the ratification of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro after the Serbian ethnic party said it will not take part in the vote, local media reported on Thursday.

Kosovo and Montenegro signed the border deal in August 2015, which Montenegro ratified later that year.

The row has fuelled months of violent clashes in the young country, including the firing of rocket-propelled grenades at parliament. Two-thirds of the 120 MPs, 80 in all, must support ratification.

Passage of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro is one of the preconditions set by the European Commission for Kosovo to be granted visa liberalization privileges by the European Union.

But he insisted this "does not mean that the government will change or renegotiate the agreement".

Vetevendosje, the largest opposition party, has said it will do everything it can, both inside and outside parliament, to stop the assembly approving the border deal.

Since October, its lawmakers have repeatedly released tear gas inside parliament in protest against the law, while six of its supporters were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of firing a rocket-propelled grenade at parliament.

Kosovo's main opposition party, the Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje), which controls 16 seats, is firmly opposed to the border demarcation deal as it believes that if the agreement is enforced in its current form, it would bite off more than 8,000 hectares of the territory of tiny Kosovo.

The postponement was met with cheers of "Victory!" and "Down with the government!" on the streets.

Earlier, police said they had found 50 rucksacks containing petrol bombs in a private garage in Pristina.

Home to 1.8 million mostly ethnic Albanian and Muslim people, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade in 2008, but its sovereignty remains unrecognised by several countries - including Serbia and Russian Federation.

On Tuesday, Kosovo police arrested six Self-Determination activists after a grenade was sacked at parliament, one of several attacks that rattled Pristina ahead of the scheduled vote.

Other reports by iNewsToday