Kosovo Cabinet ratifies border deal with Montenegro

AP News
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Posted: Aug 04, 2016 9:10 AM

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's government has ratified a border demarcation agreement with neighboring Montenegro, despite disapproval from the opposition.

The government on Thursday sent the deal to the Parliament, which is expected to concur.

A day earlier, the government met with the opposition without reaching a compromise. The agreement with Montenegro and another with Serbia, giving more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, have been major points of contention with the opposition.

A government statement said the agreement cannot be "hampered to proceed because that would create problems with many processes of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration."

In May the European Commission recommended a visa-free regime which would allow Kosovans to travel throughout Europe's so-called Schengen zone, but only after Kosovo ratified the border agreement with Montenegro.

Following 12 hours of negotiations Wednesday the opposition said the government wanted to impose "an agreement in which Kosovo loses over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres)."

The Self-Determination Movement Party said that "if the government does not withdraw, the situation will go out of control and the resistance will be harsher than ever."

Since last year the opposition has used tear gas canisters, blown whistles and thrown water bottles to disrupt parliament's work. Their supporters' street rallies routinely turn into violent clashes with police. On Thursday several scores of opposition protesters were outside the Parliament building.

In March three experts from the U.S., Britain and Germany convened by then-president Atifete Jahjaga approved the process of establishing the border with neighboring Montenegro and said it was in line with international standards.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, an act that Serbia still rejects.