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news 04 May 17

Despite Pressure, Kosovo Hesitates to Set Border Vote

Despite mounting international pressure on Kosovo to ratify the controversial border agreement with Montenegro, the government has yet to set a date for a vote in parliament. 

Die Morina
The Government of Kosovo. Photo: BIRN

Slovene centre-left MEP Tanja Fajon has added to the chorus of international voices urging Kosovo to get on with ratifying a controversial border deal with Montenegro.

In an interview for Deutsche Welle on Wednesday, Fajon stated that despite the sensitivity of the proposal in Kosovo, the agreement should either be ratified soon - or the politicians in Kosovo should find other alternatives.

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

“I want to emphasise that this criterion on visa free regime set by the European Commission and the Government of Kosovo has been agreed. If there is something which cannot be accepted and implemented, it is up to the Kosovo parliament and its politicians to propose alternatives,” Fajon told Deutsche Welle.

The same issue was also in focus at meetings between the Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Enlargement, on Tuesday in Brussels.

According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, the meetings focused on the visa liberalization process, highlighting the progress achieved by Kosovo, “which brought a positive recommendation from the European Commission about the demarcation [issue] as the only remaining criterion”.

 “Today I met Mrs Mogherini and Mr Hahn where the central topic was visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens, at that moment when Kosovo MPs ratify the demarcation agreement with Montenegro,” the minister's statement said.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and the speaker of Parliament, Kadri Veseli, held a telephone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee on April 21, who also asked them to finish the process on border demarcation.

However, despite the positive statements about the need to complete the agreement, Mustafa's government still has not set a date for when the agreement will be sent to parliament for a vote.

For the agreement to be ratified, 80 out of 120 votes of MPs are required.

The ruling coalition, comprising the Democratic Party of Kosovo, and the Democratic League of Kosovo, has not ensured the votes because, apart from the opposition parties, which all oppose the deal, some MPs from the ruling coalition are also against the agreement.

Ethnic Serbian representatives in parliament from Lista Srpska, who are part of the coalition government, have also not clarified whether they will support ratification.

“When it comes to demarcation, we have had absolutely no concrete talks related to this issue,” the head of Lista Srpska said, Kosovo media reported on Wednesday.

The issue may well decide the fate of the ruling coalition under Isa Mustafa, experts say. 

Opposition parties passionately oppose the deal, claiming it robs Kosovo of substantial amounts of pasture land on the border between the two countries.

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