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news 30 Aug 16

Montenegro Mulls Sending More Police to Kosovo Border

Montenegro does not expect clashes as Kosovo prepares to vote on a controversial border demarcation agreement between the two countries, but police are ready to tighten up security if needed.

Dusica Tomovic
A section of the 79 km-long border between the two countries.Photo: BIRN.

Montenegrin police told BIRN that the security situation is stable and denied it is has sent additional forces to its border with Kosovo ahead of a ratification vote in Pristina on Thursday on the controversial border demarcation agreement.

The comments were made after local media reported that a special anti-terrorist unit was deployed to the border after unrest in Kosovo amid opposition to the agreement.

But police denied the claims and said officers were simply undertaking “regular activities” along the 79-kilometre-long border.

“If needed, border police will engage colleagues from other units to monitor the border, but for now, there is no need for that because our findings do not indicate that the situation could become more complicated,” a police spokesperson said.

The police added that the Montenegrin border force has an ongoing good relationship with its neighbours, with officers from Kosovo taking part in joint border patrols.

Mass protests against the demarcation deal were staged in the western Kosovo town of Pec/Peja on August 27.

But Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic also said on August 28 that Podgorica did not expect large-scale incidents at the border.

He added that Montenegro did not want an inch of any other country’s territory, but would preserve its own. 

However Slobodan Vujicic, head of the Union of Montenegrins in Kosovo, said he was concerned for stability in the region after a series of violent incidents in Kosovo that followed the Pristina government’s decision to pass the deal to parliament for ratification.

“This could be the end of all dreams of a better and more prosperous future. Therefore we appeal to the citizens of Kosovo not to allow anyone to play with our emotions,” Vujicic said on Monday. 

Opposition Vetevendosje MPs have been setting off tear gas in parliament ever since the agreement was signed, from October 2015 until January this year. 

The past month has also several violent incidents in Kosovo. On August 9, an opposition MP released tear gas in the Kosovo parliament and an unknown assailant threw a hand grenade at the home of a government official ahead of a vote on the agreement.

Nebojsa Medojevic, a leader of Montenegro’s opposition Democratic Front, said tensions concerning the border were not random and could be used for “initiating an armed conflict in Montenegro.“ 

“Therefore I urge all our fellow Albanians in Montenegro not to fall for provocations and staged conflicts,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Kosovo and Montenegro signed the border deal in August 2015, which Montenegro ratified later that year.

But in Kosovo, some opposition and ruling party MPs have been claiming it deprives Kosovo of 8,000 hectares of land.

The row has caused the biggest political crisis in Kosovo since it declared independence in February 2008.

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