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news 27 Sep 17

Montenegro Snubs Kosovo Plea to Review Border Deal

In an attempt to convince neighbouring Montenegro to review the controversial border deal, Kosovo's Foreign Minister has visited Podgorica – but without apparent results, as yet.

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Foreign ministers of Kosovo and Montenegro, Behgjet Pacolli and Srdjan Darmanovic during a meeting on Tuesday in Podgorica | Photo: Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Despite the visit to Montenegro of Kosovo's new Foreign Minister, Behgjet Pacolli, on Tuesday, the deadlock between the two countries over their border demarcation agreement – which Kosovo MPs still have not ratified – remains unresolved.

Pristina political analyst Imer Mushkolaj said that while the minister's visit to Montenegro was a good move generally, it will not help Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s efforts to convince Montenegro to review the border deal.

“Kosovo is not able to change anything on the border demarcation issue without the goodwill of Montenegro," he said. “In a meantime, Montenegro is not interested and has no reason to re-open this issue, even less so in favour of Kosovo, as those who oppose the demarcation agreement claim,” Mushkolaj told BIRN.

The agreement with Montenegro was signed in August 2015 by then foreign minister Hashim Thaci, while former PM Isa Mustafa witnessed the signing. However, Mustafa faced bitter opposition both outside and within parliament over the issue.

He met strong objections from Haradinaj, then in opposition, from the opposition Vetevendosje party and from some experts.  They all claimed that the deal would deprive Kosovo of more than 8,000 hectares of land.

Former opposition MPs, including some in Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, even let off teargas in parliament to prevent ratification of the deal.  

To resolve the dispute, Kosovo formed an expert commission to map its territory. However, in February, this concluded that Kosovo had not lost any territory when it signed the agreement.

The new Haradinaj-led government meanwhile has appointed a new state commission to review the work of the previous one.

After the meeting with Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic, Pacolli said Kosovo respected Montenegro’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and was convinced that Montenegro had the same respect for Kosovo.

“We are aware of the existence of a problem in the relationship between us. We will do our best to overcome this problem in the spirit of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and the principles of international law,” the Kosovo foreign ministry said.

“Nothing is impossible in the relationship between two neighbours who respect and appreciate each other,” the statement quoted Pacolli as saying.

However, Montenegro's Darmanovic said his country expected Kosovo to ratify the agreement as it stood.

"We have an understanding for the processes in Kosovo but we expect ratification," he said, pointing out that for Montenegro the question of demarcation is now over.

The EU says it cannot proceed with visa liberalisation for Kosovo - an important issue for the country - until the border issue with Montenegro is laid to rest.

Read more:

New Kosovo PM to Revise Montenegro Border Deal

Kosovo’s New PM Gambles on Fresh Border Commission

Montenegro Doesn’t Want Kosovo’s Land, Djukanovic

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