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Kosovo's Constitutional Court has found parts of a deal between Serbia and its former province illegal. The deal has sparked a political crisis in Kosovo.
The court ruled on Wednesday Kosovo's minority Serbs would be able to run an association of municipalities as agreed to in the 2013 EU-brokered deal, but that the associations could not have executive rights reserved exclusively for the central government.
The court said the associations "are not entirely in compliance with the spirit of the constitution" and should meet constitutional standards, but that the association of municipalities "is to be established."
In a key ruling, the court also suspended a decision last month to stop implementation of the deal.
The deal between Serbia and Kosovo is designed to grant greater autonomy to Serb-minority areas largely in the north of the ethnic Albanian-majority Balkan country.
The EU-brokered deal has triggered a political crisis in Kosovo, with opposition lawmakers disrupting parliament with tear gas and whistles in an effort to block the deal.
Faced with a paralyzed parliament and street protests, President Atifete Jahjaga referred the deal to the Constitutional Court.
The opposition has also protested a separate deal with Montenegro that cedes a small sliver of territory to its neighbor.
Kosovo separated from Serbia in 1999 after NATO intervened to stop the expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces fighting a rebel insurgency. The country declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by more than 100 states, but not Serbia.
An agreement between Serbia and Kosovo is viewed as a key step in normalizing relations between the Balkan neighbors as well as advancing their integration with the EU.
cw/gsw (AFP, AP, Reuters)