Kosovo, Montenegro presidents urge passing of border deal
Feb. 16, 2018
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's president and his Montenegrin counterpart called Friday on Kosovo's parliament to ratify a border demarcation deal between the two countries which is required for Kosovo's citizens to travel freely to the European Union.
But it remained unclear if the lawmakers would ratify the deal, which some oppose, saying that it cedes territory to Montenegro.
Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci on Friday announced the joint statement with Filip Vujanovic of Montenegro, adding that upon ratification the two Cabinets would create a working group to specifically "identify and address disagreements."
Montenegro already has ratified the deal.
Kosovo opposition parties have in the past used tear gas, blown whistles and thrown water bottles in parliament to protest the deal reached in 2015. Their claim that Kosovo loses territory is denied by the previous government and international experts.
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was against the deal when he was part of the previous opposition, hailed the joint statement.
But it is not clear whether that will manage to convince lawmakers to support it.
The Self-Determination Movement Party, a staunch opponent of the deal, held an urgent meeting and said it would not support it.
"To the Self-Determination Movement such a statement from Thaci and his Montenegrin counterpart is unacceptable because it is unfair and deceitful," leader Albin Kurti said in a statement.
Once ratified, Kosovo's citizens — like those of neighbors including Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania — would gain the right to visa-free travel within the EU's visa-free travel zone known as Schengen.
Montenegro recognizes Kosovo's 2008 independence from Serbia, which Serbia rejects.