November 30, 2015

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The opposition in Kosovo said Monday it would turn to street protests to get the government to cancel deals with Serbia and Montenegro after its lawmakers were barred from Parliament after they again broke up a session with tear gas.

Government lawmakers met alone in the afternoon after their earlier session was disrupted by the opposition, which has pledged that no sessions will take place until the government renounces a deal with Serbia giving more powers to ethnic-Serb communities in Kosovo and another with Montenegro on border demarcation.

The opposition responded by calling on the public to join it in street protests. “In a country with no opposition in the parliament, there is no parliament and it cannot be called a democracy,” said main opposition Self-Determination Movement lawmaker Aida Derguti.

In a statement, the European Union called for a return to dialogue in Kosovo. “This kind of violent obstruction is neither acceptable nor will it solve any problem for the citizens of Kosovo,” it said.

Over the past three months, the opposition has regularly disrupted parliament with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles. The government of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa has accused the opposition of trying to come to power by force.

Two opposition lawmakers were under arrest before Monday’s actions, and arrest warrants have been issued for two others. Police reported they had arrested one lawmaker Monday after finding two tear gas canisters on him as he tried to enter the Parliament hall. Another lawmaker who opened a canister in the hall at the morning session has also been arrested, according to police and party officials.

Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli urged the opposition not to disrupt parliament this week, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Pristina. A chaotic situation continued at the Parliament building Monday afternoon. A tear gas canister was opened in the lobby as some opposition lawmakers tried to go round guards to reach the higher floors of the building.

The Constitutional Court has suspended the deal with Serbia until it rules on whether it breaches the constitution while the government also has said it will ask for international expertize for the border demarcation with Montenegro.

Kosovo and Serbia are holding EU-mediated talks to overcome their differences. Kosovo in 2008 declared independence from Serbia, an act that Serbia still rejects.

Gresa Kraja in Pristina, Kosovo and Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.