Tear gas fills Kosovo parliament again as MP protests border deal (VIDEO)
Driton Caushi, an MP from the opposition Vetevendosje party, set off tear gas during a Tuesday session on a border demarcation agreement that critics say would cause Kosovo to lose over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) to Montenegro.
Footage of the incident showed lawmakers coughing and rubbing their eyes as they exited the room where the session was being held.
According to AP, the party confirmed that Caushi was arrested following the incident, but police have not confirmed that report.
However, Vetevendosje MP Donika Kadaj Bujupi warned that the party would continue protesting the agreement no matter how many arrests were made.
“As always, arrests and any other attempt to stop us are in vain. We do not intend to stop, because we do not have land to give away,” Kadaj Bujupi wrote on Facebook.
If passed, the controversial legislation would see visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens to the Schengen zone countries of the EU. However, critics say the deal would rob Kosovo of its rightful territory.
BREAKING: Tear gas grenade exploded inside commision meeting room of the Kosovo Parliament pic.twitter.com/0cbvIZTnYn— Vincent Triest (@VincentTriest) August 9, 2016
Although the Tuesday session was canceled following the tear gas incident, a draft document of the border demarcation deal was passed to the parliament’s presidency, which is now expected to schedule a parliamentary vote, Balkan Insight reported.
The disruptive incident comes after talks between the government and opposition failed to reach a compromise last week. The opposition has warned that “if the government does not withdraw, the situation will go out of control and the resistance will be harsher than ever.”
The draft law on the agreement was adopted by the Kosovo government on August 3 in the face of continued protests. Parliament must ratify the document with a two-thirds majority in order for the legislation to come into force.
The opposition has been using tear gas to disrupt parliamentary sessions since September of 2015. MPs have also blown whistles and thrown water bottles to express their disapproval of the Montenegro deal and another with Serbia that gives more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. Street rallies staged by opposition supporters often turn into violent clashes with police.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and has since been recognized by a number of Western powers, but not by Russia or Serbia.