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NEWS 20 Apr 17

Thaci Pressures Kosovo MPs on Border Deal

As Kosovo President Hashim Thaci again urges parliament to ratify the controversial agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro, the issue may well decide the fate of the ruling coalition under Isa Mustafa.

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President Hashim Thaci and PM Isa Mustafa signing the coalition on December 2014 | Photo: BIRN

With opposition to the deal still strong - and a possible lack of MPs' votes to ratify the agreement on demarcation with Montenegro - Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on Wednesday urged the country's parliament and government to pass the deal so that Kosovo can meet the criteria needed for visa liberalization with the EU.

“We cannot allow this shameful situation to go on eternally. On behalf of citizens I invite the institutions responsible to take the necessary action ... to fulfil the final remaining criterion for visa liberalization without delay,” Thaçi wrote on Facebook.

The former leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PKD, which joined a coalition government under Isa Mustafa's Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, in December 2014, said local institutions were to blame for the delays in winning a new visa regime with the EU. 

“The responsibility for this bitter reality lies not only with EU institutions but on a considerable scale also in the institutions of Kosovo,” President Thaci said.

Adem Grabovci, a PDK MP, told BIRN on Wednesday said the fate of the coalition government hung on the adoption of the agreement. “Its outcome will make the coalition sustainable or not,” he told BIRN.

Grabovci said that if the coalition succeeded in taking big decisions such as this, it would likely continue.

“If the coalition is unable to take such decisions, it should offer another solution. And if the coalition decides snap elections are the solution, then we should go for elections,” Grabovci added.

Vjosa Osmani, an MP from Mustafa's LDK party - who opposed her party entering a coalition with Thacis’ PDK - said that it was up to MPs whether or not to break up the coalition.

“MPs should evaluate if they see this [demarcation agreement] as a sufficient reason to stop this mandate or think of any other possible solution to get out of this situation,” Osmani said.

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

But the opposition parties have so far prevented the agreement frrom being adopted. Three opposition parties, Vetevendosje, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and NISMA, fiercely contest it, claiming it deprives Kosovo of thousands of hectares of land.

The deal was set to be put to a vote in parliament last September but, amid opposition protests outside the building, Mustafa withdrew it from the agenda.

“The return of this issue to parliament will certainly meet our opposition and resistance, as we will not allow the government's arrogance and stubbornness to triumph, which would cost Kosovo 8,200 hectares of land,” Vetevendosje told BIRN.

According to Vetevendosje, snap elections must happen as soon as possible because “Kosovo today is led by an anti-constitutional and anti-democratic government, which has only made anti-national and anti-state agreements”.

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