Kosovo parliament ratifies border deal with Montenegro after stormy session

Credit PA

This agreement is a precondition set by the EU in order to give Kosovans the ability to travel freely inside the visa-free Schengen area- a zone where 26 European countries have abolished passports and border controls at mutual borders.

Thick smoke can be seen filling the chambers as people slowly evacuate, wiping their eyes.

Members said they hoped the vote would resume Wednesday.

Parliament members from a Kosovo opposition party used tear gas to disrupt a controversial vote earlier today.

The vote is regarding a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro, The Independent reported.

The party is firmly opposed to the border deal claiming it would deprive the Balkan nation of several thousand hectares of land.

Kosovo opposition politicians release tear gas in parliament to obstruct a session in Pristina, Kosovo March 21, 2018.

Police wearing gas masks searched the benches occupied by Vetevendosje MPs.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj told deputies Tuesday that the vote was "one of the most important matters for the country".

The ratification of the border deal with Montenegro is essential for recommending visa liberalization with Kosovo, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said during his visit to Kosovo at the end of February.

The global community had repeatedly called on Pristina to resolve the issue.

US ambassador to Kosovo, Greg Delawie, said to reporters: "This should not be happening in a European country".

(EPA/Valdrin Xhemaj) A lawmaker of the ruling coalition and security member remove a tear gas canister released by Kosovo opposition lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Pristina, Kosovo on March 21. Montenegro has already ratified the agreement.

But in neighbouring Kosovo, the previous government failed to secure a majority and finally fell in mid-2017.

Montenegro, which has approved the deal, recognizes Kosovo's 2008 independence from Serbia, which Belgrade still rejects.

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