Kosovo parliament ratifies border deal despite tear gas

Prishtina, March 22 (BBC) – Kosovo’s MPs have ratified a 2015 border agreement with Montenegro, fulfilling a key condition for gaining visa-free travel in the European Union.

The vote went ahead despite attempts by opposition politicians to prevent it by throwing tear gas in the chamber.

MPs had to evacuate. Several lawmakers from the ultra-nationalist Self-determination party were detained, according to police.

Critics of the bill say it unfairly secedes land to Montenegro.

But the international community has long called on Kosovo to resolve its demarcation disagreement.

The vote finally went ahead on Wednesday, and 80 of the chamber’s 120 MPs backed the bill.

It is a crucial step towards the country eventually joining the EU.

Kosovo’s Balkan neighbours – Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia – have all had visa-free travel in the EU since 2010.

‘Tear gas unacceptable’

Responding to the tear gas incident, EU ambassador Nataliya Apostolova said she was shocked that “members of a parliament in Europe are resorting to dangerous tactics pulling Kosovo backwards”.

Meanwhile, the US envoy to Kosovo Greg Delawie told reporters: “This should not be happening in a European country. Teargas is not a European thing.”

Many similar incidents have taken place in Kosovo’s parliament chamber in recent years.

Since it unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo has been recognised by more than 100 countries as an independent state.

Five EU countries, including Spain, have refused to do so.

Source: BBC