By Fatmir Aliu
Kosovo’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a motion calling on the government to introduce a trade ban with Serbia.
In the vote, 42 MPs voted for the motion presented by the opposition Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) group, 33 voted against and two abstained.
The sanctions vote comes after Pristina and Belgrade reached an agreement on control of the country’s volatile northern border with Kosovo.
This involves a system known as Integrated management for crossing points, or, as Kosovo calls it, Integrated Border Management.
This deal is aimed at lowering tensions in Serb-run northern Kosovo where locals have erected tens of roadblocks in protest against the deployment of Kosovo government officials on the border.
Serbia has not allowed products marked “Made in Kosovo” to enter Serbia since the war of 1999. Kosovo says it has belatedly introduced reciprocal measures in response to Serbia’s earlier action.
Kosovo’s parliament urged the government to “undertake full political, economical and trade reciprocity measures” against Serbia, and to encourage domestic producers to fill the gap.
“The Ministry of Trade and Industry should encourage… local producers and trading companies to find replacements for products imported from Serbia,” the motion says.
Self-Determinations’s leader in parliament, Visar Ymeri, said Kosovo “should enforce all state mechanisms to ensure the accurate implementation of the reciprocity measures against Serbia.”
The motion is the first opposition motion adopted by parliament, where power is in the hands of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, led by the Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci.
Some local media reported that several government MPs voted by for the motion by mistake and tried later to withdraw their votes.
Parliament has 120 seats. The ruling coalition has 61 seats: the PDK, 34; the Coalition for New Kosovo, nine; the Independent Serbian Liberal Party, 12; the Parliamentary Group 6+ (non-Serb minorities) six.