The demarcation agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro was intended to formally recognise the boundaries between these two countries, as previously achieved between Kosovo and Macedonia.
Instead, the issue over the ratification of the agreement exacerbated existing tensions between the ruling elite and opposition politicians, who object that the agreement will lead to a loss of territory for Kosovo.
The border de-alignment has remained unsuccessful for almost two years and only halts Kosovo’s path to full international recognition.
Borders are often the front lines of conflicts in the Balkans where the ‘nation state’ is strongly represented by its borders and encapsulates the national identity of the country. A continued lack of clarity on Kosovo’s borders halts the country’s progress and further European and international integration.
Kosovo’s citizens, unlike other countries in the Balkans, need visas to travel to most countries. Visa liberalisation will mean that citizens of Kosovo will not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days to all EU member countries.
The agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro caused months of debate and protests last year, along with tear gas canisters released by MPs in Kosovo’s Parliament in protest at the agreement.
Those against the demarcation agreement dispute that the country’s borders should not be squandered. Opposition to the demarcation agreement is steeped in the Balkan wars in the 1990s where the issue of territorial land is rooted in ethnic conflict.
Opposition groups, AAK, Vetëvendosje and NISMA per kosovën, who are against the demarcation agreement argue that in 1996 Milosevic’s regime moved the border with Montenegro 8km inside Kosovo, with 2,900 hectares lost. Along with claims that in 1999, KFOR moved the border 5km further into Kosovo, with a total of 3,700 hectares lost.
The opposition parties want to see the borders decided by the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution. But the US State Department argues that the demarcation agreement is almost exactly the same as denoted by the 1974 Constitution.
The demarcation agreement remains a tense topic for the government and a sensitive issue for citizens.
Citizens feel that the will of higher powers, namely the EU and the US, play a greater role in the politics of Kosovo. In a country with high unemployment at 32.9% in 2015, with this number rising up to 60% among 15-24 year olds, the population has begun to lose hope in the future of Kosovo.
In the future, Kosovo will have to settle its border with Serbia and the border demarcation with Montenegro, a country it does not have a conflict with, could be a sign of the re-emergence of tensions over territory in this region that will emerge.