Tear gas fired in­side and out­side Kosovo par­lia­ment

Op­po­si­tion an­gry at EU-bro­kered deal with Ser­bia

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PRISTINA: Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers in Kosovo fired tear gas and pep­per spray in par­lia­ment yes­ter­day and po­lice clashed with rock-throw­ing pro­test­ers in a deep­en­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis over re­la­tions with for­mer mas­ter Ser­bia. Pro­test­ers threw rocks, bot­tles and petrol bombs at po­lice and par­lia­ment in the cap­i­tal, Pristina, ral­ly­ing in sup­port of op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers who for a fourth time dis­rupted the work of the as­sem­bly with tear gas and, on this oc­ca­sion, pep­per spray. The op­po­si­tion is de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment scrap a Euro­pean Union­bro­kered deal to reg­u­late ties be­tween Ser­bia and Kosovo, its for­mer southern prov­ince, which de­clared in­de­pen­dence in 2008.

In par­tic­u­lar, they op­pose the cre­ation of a so-called “as­so­ci­a­tion” of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties pop­u­lated by mi­nor­ity eth­nic Serbs, which would have greater lo­cal pow­ers and the right to some fi­nan­cial links with Bel­grade. Kosovo broke away from Ser­bia in 1999, when NATO bombed for 11 weeks to stop the killing and ex­pul­sion of eth­nic Al­ba­ni­ans by Ser­bian forces try­ing to crush a guer­rilla in­sur­gency. The ter­ri­tory of 1.8 mil­lion peo­ple de­clared in­de­pen­dence in 2008 and has been rec­og­nized by more than 100 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the ma­jor Western pow­ers. But the EU wants the two to reg­u­late their re­la­tions as Balkan neigh­bors if ei­ther are to make progress to­wards even­tual mem­ber­ship of the bloc.

Yes­ter­day’s protest was led by op­po­si­tion law­maker Al­bin Kurti, who has set off tear gas in par­lia­ment sev­eral times in re­cent months. He fired pep­per spray at po­lice. “I pointed the pep­per spray at the prime min­is­ter and the gov­ern­ment be­cause they cre­ated the ‘as­so­ci­a­tion’,” Kurti told Reuters in the as­sem­bly. “The po­lice just hap­pened to be in the wrong place.” Law­mak­ers, who were due to de­bate the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed bud­get for next year, left the cham­ber. They moved to an­other room in the build­ing and later ap­proved the bud­get at a first read­ing. Prime Min­is­ter Isa Mustafa said the op­po­si­tion’s ac­tions were “crim­i­nal”. “I ask the in­sti­tu­tions to take mea­sures, be­cause the state is in ques­tion,” he told re­porters.—Reuters

PRISTINA: Mem­bers of the Par­lia­ment dis­perse af­ter a tear gas was launched by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers, in the Kosovo’s par­lia­ment in Pristina yes­ter­day. —AFP

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