Kosovo opposition uses tear gas to block border deal

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PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's opposition used tear gas for the second day in a row Wednesday to disrupt the work of the parliament's leadership on a pending border agreement with Montenegro.

Local media reported on Wednesday that a meeting where a vote on the disputed demarcation deal was to be scheduled had to be suspended when an opposition lawmaker opened a tear gas canister.

The meeting resumed later and Speaker Kadri Veseli announced the voting day for the deal would be Sept. 1, rather than Thursday as was expected — apparently a minor win for the opposition that had planned protests inside the hall and outside the building.

The opposition has been disrupting parliamentary work since September by using tear gas canisters, blowing whistles and throwing water bottles to protest the Montenegro deal and a separate agreement with Serbia that gives more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. Street rallies by opposition supporters routinely turn into violent clashes with police.

The opposition is concerned Kosovo would lose land because of the deal and has threatened that if the government doesn't withdraw it, "the situation will go out of control and the resistance will be harsher than ever."

The government has shown documentation it says proves Kosovo wouldn't lose any land due to the deal.

The demarcation plan with Montenegro has support from the United States and the European Union.

In March three experts from the U.S., Britain and Germany approved the process of establishing the border with Montenegro and said it was in line with international standards.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on Tuesday said approval of the border demarcation with Montenegro is the only issue Kosovo must fulfil before its citizens may enjoy the right to travel to the European Union without visas, as recommended by the European Commission in May.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has not recognized it.


Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania contributed to this story.

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