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Kosovo Parliament Approves Montenegro Border Deal

After numerous delays, Kosovo's parliament has finally given its approval to the controversial agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro.
Kosovo ruling officials shake hands after demarcation vote. Photo:Atdhe Mulla

Kosovo’s parliament has ratified the long delayed border agreement with Montenegro, which both the EU and US have repeatedly pushed for.

November 2012 – Kosovo and Montenegro start consultations on signing an international agreement on border demarcation.

August 2015 – Kosovo and Montenegro sign the agreement in Vienna.

October 2015 – Opposition parties let off tear gas in parliament in condemnation of the agreement, claiming that Kosovo stands to lose over 8,200 hectares of land.

August 2016 – Kosovo government adopts draft law on border demarcation with Montenegro, but it will not come into force until two-thirds of MPs back it in parliament.

September 2016 – As citizens protests, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa first sends the agreement for a vote in parliament but then cancels the vote, saying he will not bow to demands for concessions, presumably to the Kosovo Serbs.

May 2017 – Kosovo government falls after the parliament backs an opposition motion of no-confidence. The ruling party backs the opposition motion partly because of the lack of a solution to the demarcation agreement.

December 2017 – New government under Ramush Haradinaj backs a report by a new commission tasked with re-assessing the border deal, which concludes that the deal damages Kosovo’s national interests.

February 2018 – The Kosovo and Montenegro presidents present a joint statement on the issue of border demarcation, saying they want to form a joint working body to identify remaining disagreements.

February 2018 – An attempt to ratify the agreement in parliament fails after the government turns the vote into a package, by including two additional documents; a joint statement of presidents of Kosovo and Montenegro and the report of state commission that concluded the deal damages the national interests.

February 2018 – Assembly fails to proceed to a vote on the border agreement after the government fails to stack up the necessary numbers, two-third of all votes, 80 out of 120 MPs.

The agreement was ratified on Wednesday when 80 of the 120 MPs in parliament voted in favour of the deal.

This was just enough for the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who pushed for the deal.

The agreement was supported by MPs from the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Alliance New Kosovo and Alternative as well as by several non-Serb minority community MPs in parliament and And Adem Hodza from Srpska Lista.

MPs from the opposition Vetevendosje movement set off tear gas four times in the Assembly, in an attempt to prevent the vote.

A total of 13 MPs have been banned from the Assembly session for aiding attempts to set off tear gas in the hall, five of them from Vetevendosje.

Seven Vetevendosje’s MPs were arrested.

Prime Minister Haradinaj urged MPs on Tuesday to ratify the agreement, insisting that it does not damage the interests of Kosovo.

“Vote for this law, today more than ever it is a vote for the state of Kosovo and for freedom of movement,” Haradinaj said, referring to the EU’s insistence that it would not discuss allowing Kosovars free movement in the EU until the border issue was resolved

The main opponent of the agreement was the opposition Vetevendosje movement, which has argued that Kosovo is being asked to surrender land to Montenegro.

The European Union has set ratification of the agreement as the main condition before it will grant Kosovo nationals visa-free access to the passport-free Schengen area.

A previous attempt to ratify the border demarcation agreement failed on February 22.

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