News 28 Jun 13

Kosovo MPs Defy Protests to Ratify Serbia Deal

The Kosovo parliament ratified an agreement on normalizing relations with Serbia against a backdrop of violent protests, during which police arrested some 30 demonstrators.

Edona Peci
Pristina

Kosovo MPs ratified the deal with Serbia with 84 votes in favour and only three against and one abstention, after protestors organized by the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) movement tried to block the voting.

Up to 300 protestors responded to Vetevendosje's call to gather around the parliament building on Thursday, shouting: “The agreement won’t pass.”

Demonstrators then tried blocking lawmakers from entering the building. Police said they arrested about 30. Vetevendosje claimed around 40 of its activists were forcibly removed.

Inside the parliament, Vetvendosje members grabbed the microphone when Jakup Krasniqi, the speaker of parliament, was about to announce the result of the voting.

Opposing ratification of the agreement, Albin Kurti, the head of Vetevendosje, maintained that the agreement had no international character.

“The ratification of the agreement in our parliament is an illogical and unilateral act because it has not been ratified in Serbia,” he said.

“The agreement has also started being implemented before it was ratified, which is an even graver violation,” he added.

Kosovo and Serbia adopted a 15-point draft agreement on normalising relations on April 19, allowing both sides to advance their integration into the European Union.

The deal mainly concerns the rights of minority Serbs concentrated in the northern part of Kosovo.

Under the terms of the agreement, an Association of Serbian Municipalities with broad powers will be set up, including the four Serb-run northern municipalities of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.

Hashim Thaci, the Prime Minister, defended the accord, saying it was “fully in line with the constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.

“The agreement opens the doors to stability in the [Serb-run] north by transforming the current security situation there, and political and economic conditions,” he said.

The Kosovo authorities have already started to implement the EU-brokered deal, setting a date for local elections, appointing a regional police commander for the north and drafting an amnesty law.

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