PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's president has urged political parties to intensify efforts to ratify a border demarcation deal with Montenegro which is set as a precondition by the European Union for a visa-free regime for the country's citizens.
In his end-of-year speech to parliament Friday, Hashim Thaci urged all local actors to speed up efforts to find a solution "within the next weeks."
"Without losing time we should ratify the border demarcation deal with Montenegro. Ratification of such a deal would give an end to the unfair isolation of the Republic of Kosovo's citizens," said Thaci.
The 2015 deal has been contested by the opposition, which says Kosovo is ceding territory — a claim denied by the previous government and international experts. The protesters disrupted parliamentary work, using tear gas canisters, blowing whistles and throwing water bottles.
The government has re-sent the border issue to parliament, which has yet to set the time of its debate.
The opposition was not in the hall to follow Thaci, who also urged lawmakers to approve an agreement signed by the government to establish an association of municipalities with an ethnic-Serb population.
"The EU and many other partner countries are disillusioned with our inability to comply with the pledges," he said, adding that the country's credibility and reputation were at stake as it aims for EU and NATO membership.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade has not recognized.