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news 31 Mar 17

Kosovo Serbs' Return Revives Hope for Border Deal

The return to parliament of Kosovo Serb MPs has prompted much speculation that the long-delayed controversial border deal with Montenegro may finally go to parliament.

Die Morina, Sanja Sovrlic
BIRN
Pristina, Mitrovica
Kosovo Parliament.

The return of Kosovo Serb MPs from Srpska Lista to Kosovo's parliament, ending a six-month boycott, has revived debate over whether a controversial agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro will now be sent to parliament for ratification.

After the MPs returned on Monday, media in Kosovo reported that the agreement on demarcation, which needs the support of two-thirds of MPs, will go before parliament soon.

Serbian representatives in Kosovo's parliament have not decided whether to support the ruling coalition of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK and Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK - of which Srpska Lista is also a part - and ratify the deal with Montenegro.

“We will consider all the facts and wait to see if there is a consensus between the two largest parties in Kosovo ... but will also hold consultations within Srpska Lista and decide,” the leader of Srpska Lista, Slavko Simic, told BIRN.

Simic stated that disputes between the major parties in Kosovo had prevented the deal from being ratified earlier.

“The Democratic League of Kosovo and the Democratic Party of Kosovo failed to reach a consensus on this agreement,” Simic said.

“There is [also] a divide in attitudes between the government and the opposition as well as different interpretations of the Agreement ... between the governments of Montenegro and Kosovo,” added Simic.

Media in Kosovo have reported that the agreement may be sent for a vote in parliament on April 6. But Simic stated that no such date had been scheduled as yet.

“The date is not determined yet. This will be decided for April 6, or another date, as yet we do not know,” he told BIRN.

A government official close to Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, who wanted to remain anonymous, also declined to confirm April 6 as a likely date for the vote. “I do not believe that it will happen this soon,” this source said.

The deal was due to be put to a vote on September 1, but amid fierce opposition protests on the streets, Mustafa withdrew it from the agenda.

The opposition parties staged several mass protests against the deal with Montenegro, which they claimed gave away some of Kosovo’s own land.

Because the process of ratification of the deal remains stuck, Kosovo lost its chance to obtain visa-free travel to the EU in 2016.

The EU recommended visa liberalization for Kosovo in May 2016, but on condition that Kosovo ratified the demarcation agreement, signed in August 2105.

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