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news 21 Feb 17

Kosovo ‘Lost No Land’ in Montenegro Border Deal

An expert commission appointed to map Kosovo’s territory has concluded that it lost no territory when it signed an agreement on the demarcation of its borders with Montenegro.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
The Commission for the Measurement of Territory presenting its report. Photo: BIRN.

The Commission for the Measurement of Territory issued a report on its findings on Tuesday, saying that land which the opposition has claimed was wrongly being given away in the border demarcation deal was genuinely part of Montenegro.

The commission said that the Cakorr and Belluha were part of Montenegro, not Kosovo, as the opposition has claimed.

Commission member Tomor Celaj who presented the maps and documents that the expert body used while mapping the borders, said that “Cakorr and Belluha are out of Kosovo’s territory”.

The border deal signed in 2015 has not yet been ratified by parliament due to opposition protests, and the lack of a finalised agreement with Montenegro has threatened to delay Kosovo’s hopes of EU visa liberalisation.

The head of the commission, academic Hivzi Islami, said that the report had also verified the exact size of the country.

“The territorial area of the Republic of Kosovo is 10905.25 square kilometres,” Islami said.

The commission’s draft report will be sent to the government and then must be voted on by MPs in parliament.

However, there were disagreements within the commission about its findings.

The only geographer on the commission, Fitim Humolli, resigned on Monday.

Humolli said in his resignation that the report “is not professional, and is for political consumption”.

The European Union has put the ratification of the agreement with Montenegro at the top of its conditions for visa liberalisation for Kosovo.

But the opposition’s angry response has so far prevented this. Three opposition parties in Kosovo, Vetevendosje, AAK and NISMA, have fiercely opposed it, claiming it deprives Kosovo of thousands of hectares of land.

The deal was set to be put to a vote in parliament in September last year, but amid opposition protests outside the building, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa withdrew it from the agenda.

Mustafa repeated this week that the deal has major benefits for Kosovo.

“Ratification will allow Kosovo citizens to move freely in EU countries and it would have substantial impact on strengthening [Kosovo’s] sovereignty and territorial integrity by marking the border with another neighbour,” he told BIRN.

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