Members of Kosovo parliament set off tear gas to stop vote


MPs from Kosovo's opposition Movement for Self-Determination threw three tear gas canisters in parliament on Wednesday to try to stop a vote on a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.

Its Balkan neighbours - Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia - have all had visa-free travel in the European Union since 2010.

The parliament speaker adjourned the session until the room had been ventilated.

Kosovo's opposition has used tear gas to disrupt a parliament vote on a border demarcation deal with Montenegro.

The bill would ratify a border agreement that critics argue unfairly secedes land to Montenegro.

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Police said they were investigating how the tear gas got into the hall, adding that officers couldn't enter the chamber unless asked by the parliament's leadership.

The EU has made ratifying the deal a condition that Kosovo must fulfil before its citizens are granted visa-free travel to the bloc's Schengen zone.

Two members of the governing coalition were injured on Wednesday, but lawmakers nonetheless pledged that the vote would go forward. "Now it is just a matter of how the parliament chairmanship will make it possible for the session to take place having in mind the tear gas and other acts of sabotage", Maliqi said.

The border agreement with Montenegro is being opposed by Kosovo's main opposition party Vetvendosje, who say the deal is damaging and unfair for Kosovo.

More than 100 parliament members were forced to leave the hall.

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EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn also strongly condemned the use of tear gas.

The tear gas caused leaders to evacuate the building in the capital of Pristina.

Both the USA and European Union ambassadors denounced the use of tear gas and urged the lawmakers to hold the vote in favour of the deal.

The United States and 23 of the EU's 28 member states now recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

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