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Kosovo nationalists protest Serbia deal ratification

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Protesters from a radical nationalist movement attempted to block the entrance to Kosovo's parliament on Thursday to prevent deputies ratifying an agreement that would normalise ties with Serbia.

The Self-Determination movement, a nationalist party that seeks to unify Kosovo with neighbouring Albania, is attempting to block the historic agreement struck on April 19 between Kosovo and Serbia.

Some 300 protestors carried banners that read "The deal will not pass" and "A state cannot be built with thieves," and argued with security forces deployed around the parliament.

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia that broke away to form an independent state after a 1998-99 war in which Serbs were accused of expulsions and random killings of ethnic Albanians, who make up 92 percent of Kosovo's population. NATO bombed Serbian targets for two months in response.

Members of the Self-Determination movement reject the Kosovan government's recent overtures to the European Union regarding future membership, in which the execution of the April 19 agreement will play a key part.

They are also angry about the beginning of talks, due to be finalised on Friday, on an agreement to strengthen regional co-operation and open a free trade area between the nation and the EU as part of a "Stabilisation and Association Agreement," the first step towards EU membership.

EU foreign affairs ministers have also recommended that Serbia begin accession talks, a later stage in the lengthy membership process, by January 2014 at the very latest.

The decision by the EU to consider membership for Serbia and Kosovo following the April 19 agreement would be dependent on both nations executing the terms of the unpublished 15-point plan.

Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs refuse to recognise the 2008 independence of Kosovo, although more than 90 countries, including the United States and all but five EU member states, have done so.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130627/kosovo-nationalists-protest-serbia-deal-ratification