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Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa attends news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

(reuters_tickers)

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Opposition parties in Kosovo have filed a motion of no confidence in the government, potentially deepening an 18-month-long political crisis over legislation to fix a border with Montenegro that is needed to ease travel to the EU.

More than 40 deputies including 12 from parties that are part of the ruling coalition and some independent MPs signed the motion, which accused the government of failing to meet its campaign pledges and creating public distrust.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, whose conservative LDK is the second-largest party in the 120-seat parliament, has enough votes to survive the no-confidence motion provided all or most coalition lawmakers support him. Parliament's largest party, the centre-right PDK, has yet to give its backing, however.

A debate on the motion must be held within five days.

The motion also noted that the parliament "very often ... was not able to have a quorum to vote" because of disruptive actions inside and outside the building by opponents of the border legislation.

These have included street riots, opposition deputies throwing teargas and the firing of a rocket-propelled grenade at parliament.

The government dropped plans in September for a parliamentary vote on the bitterly contested law to establish a definitive border with Montenegro after lawmakers from Mustafa's ethnic Serb coalition ally stayed away from the session.

A two-thirds majority would have been needed to force through the measure, which the European Union has said is crucial if Kosovars are to join their former Yugoslav neighbours in enjoying visa-free travel to the bloc.

Mustafa has said he will call a snap election if the border deal is not passed soon.

"We cannot continue with this situation, in one way or another the government will soon be brought down," a senior government official told Reuters on Friday.

Another source said an election was likely to be held in June, a year ahead of schedule.

Opposition parties say the border deal would see some 8,000 hectares of territory, mostly forested highland, transferred to Montenegro, although the government and others, including the United States, say this is not the case.

The opposition also objects to an EU-brokered deal to improve ties with another neighbour, Serbia.

Kosovo broke with Serbia in 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign halted a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" directed against ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces trying to stamp out a two-year insurgency and declared independence in 2008.

It has been recognised by more than 100 countries, including Western powers, but not by Serbia and its big-power ally Russia or several EU members such as Spain.

(Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Catherine Evans)

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Reuters