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news 25 Jan 17

Kosovo to Map Territory Amid Border Uncertainties

The Kosovo government is aiming to map the country’s territory precisely for the first time, nine years after declaring independence, following a political dispute over a border agreement with Montenegro.

Die Morina, Qendrese Mustafa
BIRN
Pristina
The Kosovo goverment building. Photo: Kallxo.com

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on Tuesday appointed the head of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, Hivzi Islami, to lead a government commission which will map the country’s territory definitively for the first time.

Mustafa said the new commission would be independent.

“As the government, we will not give instructions on how this commission will work, because this is a professional commission. We will support its work logistically,” Mustafa said at the first meeting of the commission.

Mustafa said that ordinary people and MPs from all parties in the Kosovo Assembly needed to know exactly where the country’s borders lie.

“This is about an exact answer, an answer that is necessary for everyone - for the Assembly, the opposition and the ruling coalition, state institutions and the international community,” he said.

The head of the commission, Hivzi Islami, said that he was aware how challenging the task could be.

“This duty is neither easy nor pleasant because this issue is not easy and it has been debated for a long time,” said Islami.

He clarified that the commission will not deal with border demarcation policy, and will only do the geographical mapping of Kosovo’s territory.

Officially, Kosovo has a territory of 10,887 square kilometres, and is bordered by Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. So far, the demarcation process has only been completed with Macedonia, in 2008.

The new commission was appointed after a long and heated debate about an agreement signed on 2015 in Brussels on border demarcation with Montenegro.

The Kosovo Assembly has not yet ratified the Montenegro agreement due to strong resistance from opposition parties, which claim that the country is giving up some of its land.

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

The deal was set to be put to a vote in parliament on September 1, but amid opposition protests outside the building, Mustafa withdrew it from the agenda.

The opposition also boycotted Tuesday’s meeting of the commission.

“The commission created by the government to take measurements of the territory of Kosovo, which is still without defined borders, is a continuation of the irresponsible actions in this direction by the prime minister,” said the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party’s parliamentary group, MP Pal Lekaj.

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