Kosovo Opposition MPs Hurl Tear Gas In Parliament


By Ervin Qafmolla

At least one deputy passed out after opposition MPs released tear gas in the Kosovo parliament on Thursday, protesting over EU-backed agreements with Serbia.

At least one deputy passed out after opposition MPs released tear gas in the Kosovo parliament on Thursday

A session of parliament in Kosovo had to close after opposition MPs hotly opposed to Kosovo’s EU-brokered deals with Serbia, threw tear gas canisters in the chamber, causing at least one MP to pass out.

The atmosphere was tense even before they released two canisters of tear gas, as MPs from the opposition Vetevendosje [Seld-Determination] movement, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and Nisma blew whistles in the faces of colleagues from the ruling parties and threw water at them.

The founder of Vetevendosje, Albin Kurti, then activated one tear gas canister while other opposition MPs kicked it in the direction of their ruling party colleagues.

Flora Brovina, a deputy from the ruling coalition, passed out as a result of the tear gas and received medical care.

Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga condemned the stunt, as did Branimir Stojanovic, Vice Prime Minister and member of the “Serbian List” parliamentary group. He called the turmoil “shameful” and named Kurti as the main culprit.

However, the leader of the AAK, Ramush Haradinaj, said it was only the beginning, calling the tear-gassing “trivial”.

It was the third session in a row in which the opposition parties, led by Vetevendosje, kept true to their pledge to disrupt parliament in protest against the agreements with Serbia.

The most contested agreement concerns the establishment of an Association of Serbian Municipalities with wide-ranging powers.

Some fear that the powers granted to the association will make it effectively independent, like the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia.

Glauk Konjufca, from Vetwvendosje, said that the agreement on the association was an act of treason by the ruling coalition MPs.

While previous sessions were not held at all because opposition MPs were physically occupying the floor of parliament, this time speaker Kadri Veseli had announced that a session would take place.

The approved bills relate to the environment, amendments to laws on conflict of interest and a law on thermal energy.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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