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news 28 Jun 16

"Republic of Kosovo" Plaque Sparks Anger in Montenegro

Police removed a plaque reading "Republic of Kosovo" set on the territory of Montenegro by the Kosovo opposition and announced they will use "diplomatic channels" to resolve the violation of the state border.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
The Vetevendosje MPs put up the Albanian flag and a plaque reading "Republic of Kosovo" eight kilometres inside the territory of Montenegro. Photo: Vetevendosje.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday that the Montenegrin prosecution will react, along with the foreign ministry, to a violation of the state border in which Kosovo politicians planted the Albanian flag deep into Montenegrin territory.

On Monday, the MPs of the Vetevendosje (the Self-Determination Party) set the Albanian flag and a plaque reading "Republic of Kosovo" eight kilometers inside the territory of Montenegro, in an area they claimd was stripped from Kosovo in the process of demarcation with Montenegro.

The group was lead by MP Donika Kadaj-Bujup, detained in late 2015 after the Kosovo opposition released tear gas in the parliament as a protest of the border agreement with Montenegro.

The party said the table was set "at the point where the border with Montenegro is supposed to be."

"This point is the real border line between Kosovo and Montenegro, where we, the members of Kosovo parliament, placed the table which is eight kilometers away from where Kosovo police is located and two kilometers from the Montenegrin police. We will continue to object giving away Kosovo's territory by any means," the party's statement reads.

But the Montenegrin Interior Ministry said that it was a violation of the state border and ordered the removal of the table and flag, placed near the border crossing at Kula.

"Police officers have taken all measures in consultation with the state prosecution, including removing the table and flag. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been informed of this event, in order to address the violations of the state border through diplomatic channels," the statment said.

The Interior Ministry, however, did not respond to BIRN's questions about why the police allowed the placement of the table and whether the Kosovan politicians legally entered the country at the official border crossing.

The agreement on the state border between Montenegro and Kosovo was signed in August 2015 in Vienna, under the auspices of the Western Balkans process, after three years of negotiations with the two border commissions. The Parliament of Montenegro ratified the agreement last December and said it expects Kosovo to do the same.

The Kosovo opposition has rejected the border agreement, claiming that the country stands to lose more than 8,000 hectares of land under the terms. Opposition parties vowed to continue to "defend the territory of Kosovo."

Following numerous opposition protests in Pristina, the US State Department in December said that following a review of maps from the 1940s to the present, including those used by the commission demarcating the border, the recently-delineatted border closely aligns with the border as defined by the former Yugoslav state's 1974 Constitution.

In March, an ad-hoc international commission sent by former President Atifete Jahjaga assessed that there were no "violations in the Kosovo-Montenegro demarcation process and that the process adheres to international standards."

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