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News 06 Feb 18

Border Dispute Clouds Montenegrin PM's Kosovo Visit

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is set to visit Pristina on Tuesday – a day after Kosovo's parliament again failed to proceed to a vote on a vexed border agreement.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
 The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic. Photo: Government's public relations office

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic will pay an official visit to Kosovo on Tuesday, despite Kosovo's failure to set a day for its MPs to vote on a long-awaited demarcation agreement between the two countries.

Kosovo’s government confirmed that “all topics of mutual interest between two countries will be discussed” during Markovic’s visit.

Blerim Kuqi an MP from Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, told BIRN earlier that “one of the main topics will certainly be ... border demarcation”.

The agreement was on the agenda of the meeting of the Presidency of the Assembly, to be sent to parliament for a vote, when its members decided to postpone it.

“I asked the presidency of the assembly to address this issue of the agenda at some [other] moment,” the speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli, said on Monday after the meeting.

"We had an unanimous decision on this, except for the LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo], which insisted on the issue being put immediately on the agenda,” Veseli said.

“We are working very seriously together so that we can have it [on the agenda]," he added.

The EU has said that resolving the border issue with Montenegro is one of the main criteria facing Kosovo before the EU will consider abolishing visa requirements for Kosovo’s citizens.

On January 30, Deputy Prime Minister Behgjet Pacolli warned on TV that the government “would lose any sense of its functioning” if it was unable to ratify the agreement within 10 to 15 days – the time frame if visa liberalisation is to be achieved this year.

Media reported that during a dinner where Pacolli hosted state officials on Sunday, an agreement was reached to ratify demarcation – but this was not confirmed on Monday.

“It was an informal meeting. It is part of the routine meetings that institutional leaders hold, which have to do with Kosovo’s interest,” Veseli said on Monday.

Fatmir Limaj, leader of the Initiative for Kosovo, NISMA, another party that opposed the agreement while in opposition, but who is currently Deputy Prime Minister, said in December that they were working on a version of the agreement that would be acceptable to everyone.

The controversial agreement was agreed between the two countries in 2015, but Kosovo has failed to ratify it due to strong opposition from several political parties.

The agreement was supposed to be put to a vote in parliament in September 2016, but ratification was postponed following violent clashes over the issue.

The current Prime Minister’s party, the AAK, was one of the parties that strongly opposed the current version of the agreement, claiming it would deprive Kosovo of 8,000 hectares of land.

With the opposition Vetevendosje movement, they claim that the mountain peaks of Cakorr and Belluha, located on the border, assigned to Montenegro, are in fact parts of Kosovo.

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