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Kosovo Postpones Debate on Montenegro Border Deal

  • VOA News

Kosovo's Albanians protest outside the parliament building in Pristina, Sept. 1, 2016. The protesters cheered as as the government withdrew a controversial draft law on a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.

Kosovo's Albanians protest outside the parliament building in Pristina, Sept. 1, 2016. The protesters cheered as as the government withdrew a controversial draft law on a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.

Kosovo’s government on Thursday withdrew a controversial draft law on a border deal with Montenegro, saying a vote on the measure would be postponed indefinitely.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told lawmakers that the measure had been withdrawn because of the tension surrounding the issue.

"This is not the situation in which we should discuss and vote on the law for ratification of the agreement with Montenegro," he said. "Today, the government withdraws this law from the agenda and parliament procedures."

Mustafa insisted this "does not mean that the government will change or renegotiate the agreement."

He announced the postponement after deputies from Kosovo's Serb minority failed to attend the session.

About 2,000 protesters, led by the Self-Determination party, a staunch opponent of the measure, gathered on the streets of the capital, Pristina, ahead of Thursday's parliamentary session, chanting, "[Border] agreement will not pass."

Mustafa’s announcement was met with cheers of "Victory!" and "Down with the government!" by protesters. Opponents of the proposed deal say Kosovo would lose thousands of hectares of land. Demonstrators held posters reading, “We do not want land from Montenegro; we do not give land to Montenegro.”

The European Union has made border demarcation with Montenegro a condition for Kosovo to secure visa-free travel.

Kosovo's opposition deputies, who used tear gas at the parliament and have organized violent protests in the streets since late 2015, had said the deal would give Montenegro some 8,000 hectares, a claim rejected by the government and the United States, Kosovo's strongest ally.

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