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News 28 Jul 16

Montenegro Urges Kosovo to Ratify Border Agreement

Dusko Markovic, the Montenegrin Vice Prime Minister, said Kosovo should ratify the border demarcation agreement reached between the countries without delay.

Ervin Qafmolla
BIRN
Pristina
Dusko Markovic, Vice Prime Minister of Montenegro. Photo: Montenegro government

Dusko Markovic, the Vice Prime Minister of Montenegro, has urged Kosovo to fulfill its part of a border demarcation agreement without further delay.

In a statement for BIRN, Markovic expressed concern that while parliament in Montenegro ratified the border agreement at the end of last year, Kosovo has yet to ratify the agreement.

“Demarcation between Montenegro and Kosovo was completed by the signing of the Agreement, and requests for its review are absolutely unfounded and unacceptable, given that our two countries do not have a single contentious territorial issue,” Markovic said. 

The Kosovo assembly set a debate for August 3 on the controversial border demarcation agreement on the request of several MPs.

Kosovo opposition parties and residents of border regions claim the agreement potentially robs Kosovo of several thousand hectares of land.

Some legislators from the ruling coalition parties have also been critical of the process, arguing that open discussion of the issues must be held before ratification.

Violent protests have also been staged by the opposition parties in Kosovo, calling for the agreement to be reviewed.

But Markovic says the former administrative border has been reaffirmed, and is in line with the position of the International Badinter Arbitration Committee on borders, and that an international experts’ commission also approved it.

“Not a single inch of someone else's land has been taken [by Montenegro]... and several agreements have been signed that allow for the unimpeded use of real estate that remain on the other side of the border line, facilitate everyday life and improve the quality of life of the citizens of our two states living in the border zone,” he said.

The Kosovo government is under strong international pressure to approve the agreement and send it to the assembly for a vote, and ratification, before the August holidays, when parliament goes into recess.

The EU in May reiterated that it will only approve visa liberalisation for Kosovo – the only country in the Balkans still left out of the EU visa-free area – If Kosovo steps up efforts to tackle organised crime and corruption and ratifies the border agreement.

Previously in July, Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, pushed for swift ratification of the agreement, while downplaying the nature of the debate on the issue.

“The debate on this matter in the assembly is relatively artificial,” Nuland told Kosovo's public broadcaster, RTK, during her visit to Kosovo.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and European Parliament rapporteur on Kosovo Tanja Fajon have both called for the agreement to be ratified before August.

According to the Montenegrin Vice Prime Minister, both international and also Montenegrin and Kosovan experts have confirmed that the demarcation deal involves no detriment to either party.

“I believe that the [Kosovo] parliament will take into account the expert positions and complete the ratification procedure,” Markovic said.

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