Fight against corruption will not be an easy task for the new Montenegrin government – European Western Balkans

The opposition in Montenegro won the August general elections on the wave of popular discontent over the law on religious freedom, but this issue was just the tip of the iceberg that brought people on the streets. Beneath the surface, Montenegro suffers from systemic corruption, organized crime, dysfunctional institutions and lack of public responsibility – diseases that have developed over the 30 years of Democratic Party of Socialist (DPS) rule.

Newly elected Government decided not to bring to question painful identity issues and foreign policy commitments of Montenegro as a member of NATO and EU candidate country, but pledged to engage in a fierce fight against corruption and organized crime.

Dritan Abazović, Vice-President of the Government, in charge of the security sector, said that the Government aims to increase transparency, make decisive steps in fighting corruption and organized crime and to support the National Assembly in electoral reforms.

Easy to say but very hard to do.

The Government has the support of 41 out of 80 MPs in the National Assembly but the coalition partner Democratic Front (DF) is not satisfied with not having a share in power, so it only nominally supports the Government. This means that the Government needs to fight for every legislative proposal and cannot take the parliamentary support for granted.

The other challenge comes from the cohabitation with the President of Montenegro and DPS Milo Đukanović. Đukanović will try to make Government’s endeavours difficult, which he already showed by initially refusing to proclaim several laws that National Assembly adopted, including the revised law on religious freedom. Although Đukanović as the President of the State doesn’t hold a lot of power according to the Constitution, and his party is losing popular support, having been in power for 30 years still makes him a dangerous political opponent.

The third and the most serious obstacle is the composition of the institutions responsible for fighting corruption and organized crime such as judiciary, prosecution, police and intelligence service.

In their latest analysis, a think-tank from Podgorica Institut Alternativa stated that the control over judiciary and prosecution is still in the hands of DPS, which has dominantly influenced their composition for decades.

“This is the key obstacle for fulfilling the political promises of the new Government”, the analysis reads.

Having in mind all this, we talked to the experts from civil society organizations about capacities of the Government to fulfil the promises made to citizens and whether early elections could bring more stable majority and be the solution for untying the knot and evading a possible crisis.

One of the first major steps the Government undertook was letting go of the Director of Police and the Director of the Agency for National Security (ANB) with an aim to bring changes in the work of police and intelligence service.

In the opinion of Boris Marić, Executive Director of the Centre for Civil Liberties (CEGAS) the changes in the Police and ANB are signs that the Government started dealing with difficult systematic problems, including enormous public debt and shutting down of the national airline company.

“All these changes are bases for investigations in order to shed light on corrupt businesses, ties with organized crime and the emergence of organized criminal groups. When we see economy on the brink of collapse and institutions left devastated and meaningless, it is not difficult to conclude that endemic corruption existed“, Marić pointed out.

He said that the Government can do a lot in discovering high-level corruption in the heart of state institutions, but that there is a serious obstacle in the judicial and prosecutorial system.

„This branch of power remained intact and currently there is no mechanism for anything to seriously be done. I think this is the most serious threat to the state of democracy in Montenegro and to the security of the society. Political subjects needs to find a model to sit together and open this hot topic in a EU mediated dialogue“, Marić said.

Jovana Marović, Executive Director of the Politikon Network has a similar opinion when it comes to expectations from the Government and concerns regarding the judiciary.

“By changing the government after 30 years, conditions are met to break the deadlock in fighting corruption and organized crime, at least when it comes to the activities in authority of the Government. These activities will certainly be under the eye of the National Assembly, where opposition will criticize every step and the support of the governing majority will be on the thin ice”, Marović said.

She also said that the conditions of the judiciary are not encouraging, while the Agency for Prevention of Corruption should significantly enhance its work.

“It is expected that the Government start a number of initiatives, continue to reveal and make misconducts transparent, improve strategic framework”, she said and added that certain steps have been taken to change the institutional framework, such as the creation of the advisory bodies.

“The remaining steps will depend on making a compromise in the National Assembly with the opposition in order to make important appointments in judiciary and start reform of this branch of power”, Marović concluded.

And just how difficult it is to make substantial changes in the judiciary can be seen from the Institut Alternativa’s analysis which states that the key and the final decisions in fighting corruption and organized crime lays in the hands of Special State Prosecutor’s Office and Special Police Department.

“For electing a new Chief Special Prosecutor of Special State Prosecutor’s Office, first a new Supreme State Prosecutor and Prosecutorial Council need to be elected, who will then appoint the new Chief Special Prosecutor”, the report reads.

But in order to appoint a new Supreme State Prosecutor, 3/5 majority needs to be established in the National Assembly, which means that support of at least one MP from Democratic Party of Socialist is needed.

“Even if new parliamentary majority has the best candidate which is acceptable to the Social Democratic Party, Bosniak Party and Albanian MPs, there is still 1 vote controlled by DPS in order to gain the 3/5 majority”, the report states.

For Boris Marić, the fight against the high-level corruption and organized crime depends on the judicial system, its strength, dedication, professionalism and independence. He says that finding solutions for going out of the deadlock in judiciary lies in the hands of National Assembly, but also highlights that the EU might have an important role in this process.

„It is clear that without serious negotiations in the National Assembly there is no serious reform of the judicial system. I believe that in this specific case mediation by the EU is needed“, Marić pointed out.

He also said that the seriousness of the problem is demonstrated by the fact that no candidates applied for position of the President of the Supreme Court.

New elections as the solution for breaking the deadlock?

Since its formation, the Government has been criticized not just by the opposition, but also by the MPs from Democratic Front, a coalition of parties that supports the Government. Criticism started after Prime Minister Krivokapić announced the formation of a non-partisan Government in which there wasn’t a place for the leaders of Democratic Front coalition because, in words of the Prime Minister, “it would damage the reputation of the Government”.

Vladimir Pavićević, Director of the Society for Research of Politics and Political Theory, thinks that the lack of unity in the parliamentary majority, inability to form a government which would be supported by the minority parties and appointments made by the Prime Minister Krivokapić are the reasons for considering this Government “interim” and that the early elections are to be expected in 2021.

Summing up the first two months of the Government’s work, Jovana Marović stated that both positive and negative trends could be observed, but there is hope that the Government will make positive changes. In her opinion, on the one hand the Government has hastily enacted a number of decisions – it started changing the laws without public consultations and public discussions, announced the creation of a new national airline company which was met with criticism by a large part of the public, as well as the decision on taking new loans and certain appointments.

„Communication strategy of the Government is non-existent, and there is an impression that the coordination between the ministries and ministers is weak“, Marović added.

On the other hand, the Government demonstrated sensibility in accepting criticism, and also a number of meetings were held with the business sector. All that indicates that the Government is willing to listen to the voice of different groups and act accordingly.

„It is good that, at least for the time being, there are no signs of changing the foreign-policy direction of the country“, Marović said.

In her opinion the Government first needs to take the maximum benefits out of the current situation before thinking about the new elections which might provide a more stable majority in the National Assembly.

Boris Marić also believes that the fight against corruption does not necessary require holding new elections, because that wouldn’t change much in the overall distribution of seats.

“Maybe early presidential elections are needed more than the elections for the National Assembly”, he said.

Marić also believes that the Government will give a stronger impulse in fight against corruption and organized crime which does not leave room for Special Prosecution to remain passive.

“The negotiation process with the EU will probably push the opposition to be cooperative about finding solutions for problems in the judiciary. It won’t be an easy period, but I believe the Montenegrin society will go in the direction of strengthening institutions which is the key to the problem. The elections are inevitable, and for democracy it is good that every government and its results are put on the election test”.

Although it seems that the sun in setting on the rule of the President Đukanović, future governments dedicated to fighting corruption will be haunted by the ghosts of his legacy. Working on deconstructing of the corrupt system and preserving foreign policy achievements, while carefully balancing the identity and religious issues, will be the skills which all governments will need to master.

Izvor/Source: https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2021/01/29/fight-against-corruption-will-not-be-an-easy-task-for-the-new-montenegrin-government/

ASK: Civilni sektor partner u zaštiti javnog interesa

Spojem institucionalnog i vaninstitucionalnog znanja i iskustva može se u potpunosti doprinijeti jačanju integriteta i transparentnosti izbornog procesa, ocijenila je direktorica Agencije za sprečavanje korupcije (ASK) Jelena Perović na sastanku sa predstavnicima nevladinih organizacija (NVO).

Kako je saopšteno iz ASK-a, Perović je u razgovoru sa predstavnicima Centra za demokratsku tranziciju, Centra za monitoring i istraživanje i Centra za građanske slobode poručila da civilni sektor vidi kao partnera u djelovanju na zaštiti javnog interesa.

Izvor: Vijesti

Tema razgovora, kako su naveli iz ASK-a, bila je praćenje, nadzor i kontrola izborne kampanje za lokalne izbore u Nikšiću.

“Spojem institucionalnog i vaninstitucionalnog znanja i iskustva može se dati puni doprinos jačanju integriteta i transparentnosti izbornog procesa”, navela je Perović.

Agencija će, kako je saopšteno, po okončanju izbora u zakonskom roku imati izvještaje i analizu troškova političkih subjekata tokom kampanje.

Načelnik Odsjeka za sprovođenje finansiranja političkih subjekata i izbornih kampanja, Dušan Drakić, izdvajajući u prvi plan transparentnost, pojasnio je nadležnosti Agencije, koja posvećeno vrši suštinsku kontrolu i nadzor izborne kampanje.

Predstavnici civilnog sektora su, ukazujući na atmosferu u Nikšiću uoči izbora, ponudili niz sugestija.

Te sugestije se, kako su naveli iz ASK-a, tiču kontrole finansiranja kampanje i ponašanja aktera izbornog procesa, unapređenja izbornog zakonodavstva, motivisanja građana da prijave moguće zloupotrebe, kao i potrebe pojačanog prisustva Agencije u medijima.

“Razgovor je predstavljao nastavak komunikacije Agencije sa NVO sektorom”, dodaje se u saopštenju.

Iz ASK-a su rekli da je dogovoreno da se međusobna saradnja produbi i konkretizuje, a da sastanci postanu redovna praksa i da se organizuju na sedmičnom nivou.

U sastanku su učestvovali predstavnici CEGAS-a.

Izvor: https://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/drustvo/511523/ask-civilni-sektor-partner-u-zastiti-javnog-interesa

Zakonodavna i izvršna vlast da uvaže sugestije evropskih partnera

Foto: PR Centar

Podgorica, (MINA) – Evropska unija (EU) pažljivo će pratiti reforme pravosuđa i zakonodavna i izvršna vlast ne smiju da se ogluše o sugestije evropskih partnera, već treba da uvaže određene nalaze, kazao je izvršni direktor Centra za građanske slobode Boris Marić.

Komentarišući inicijativu parlamentarne većine za izmjenu tužilačkih zakona, Marić je agenciji MINA rekao da vjeruje da će preovladati odgovoran pristup, biti stvorene potrebne pretpostavke za profesionalan i nezavistan rad tužilaca i da će, ako to preovlada, pregovori sa EU biti bolji.

On smatra da se u tranziciji vlasti izgubilo dosta vremena, zbog čestog nejedinstva cilja subjekata parlamentarne većine, pa nije postojala potrebna društvena debata o neophodnosti izmjena zakona o tužilačkoj organizaciji.

„Predlog normativnih rješenja jeste u granicama poštovanja ustavnih rješenja“, kazao je Marić.

Kako je naveo, potreba da se proces reformi u tužilaštvu pokrene je prioritet, ali mora se voditi računa o stavovima predstavnika EU.

„Kriterijumi da neko postane tužilac ostali su prilično visoko postavljeni, tako da uz još neke intervencije, koje bi doprinijele smanjivanju eventualnog političkog uticaja, predložena normativna riješenja mogu dobiti prelaznu ocjenu“, rekao je Marić.

On je dodao da od pitanja normative nije manje važno kakva će biti kadrovska rješenja u tužilaštvu.

Komentarišući inicijativu parlamentarne većine, Marić je naveo da su reforme pravosudnog sistema neminovnost i neophodnost crnogorskog društva.

„Politička volja za suštinske reforme izostaje godinama. Dio vezan za učinke pravosudnog sistema u borbi protiv visoke korupcije i organizovanog kriminala, godinama unazad su, u izvještajima EU, ocjenjivani kao nedostatni“, kazao je Marić.

Kako je naveo, činjenica je da se noseće funkcije u pravuđu nalaze u vd stanju.

Činjenica je, kako je dodao, da je Sudski savjet nekompletan, da nije bilo prijavljenih kandidata na konkursu za predsjednika Vrhovnog suda, da je funkcija vrhovnog državnog tužioca u vd stanju, i da je jasno da većina u Tužilačkom savjetu ne bi trebalo da dolazi iz redova tužilaštva.

Marić je ukazao i na nefunkcionalnost dvotrećinske i tropetinske većine neophodne za izbor vrhovnog državnog tužioca i dijela članova Sudskog savjeta, što, kako je naveo, zbog naglašenih političkih interesa još predstavlja nepremostiv problem.

„Jasno je da će EU pažljivo pratiti proces oživljavanja reformi u sistemu pravosuđa sa akcentom na tužilačku organizaciju. Zakonodavna i izvršna vlast ne smiju se oglušiti o sugestije evropskih partnera, već treba uvažiti određene nalaze, ali i objasniti cilj zakonskih intervencija, da su u smjeru jačanja kapaciteta i integriteta tužilačke organizacije“, rekao je Marić.

Na pitanje kako ocjenjuje najavu ukidanja Specijalnog državnog tužilaštva (SDT) i prestanak mandata tužilaca, on je naveo da treba upozoriti da postoje rizici gdje vladajuća većina može posegnuti za većim uticajem političkih interesa nego što je to dozvoljeno i potrebno.

„Ali vjerujem da crnogorsko društvo uz pomoć evropskih partnera ima jake korektivne mehanizme, da će pretegnuti odgovornost i svijest o potrebi pune saradnje sa Evropskom komisijom“, rekao je Marić.

Kako je kazao, prvo se mora biti oprezan sa metodologijom i dinamikom kadrovskih reformi u SDT-u.

Upitan kako komentariše to što je prilikom izrade tih predloga zakona izostalo konsultovanje Udruženja tužilaca, Tužilačkog savjeta, stručne i građanske javnosti i evropskih partnera, Marić je naveo da je jasno da su konsultacije bile potrebne, ali da i sada nije kasno da se svi društveni akteri oglase.

„Moraju se jasno propisati kriterijumi koji bi razjasnili široko postavljen i nedefinisan pojam “ugledni pravnik”. Promjena odnosa snaga u Tužilačkom savjetu onda bi bila mnogo utemeljenija“, dodao je Marić.

Na pitanje da li se to može odraziti na evropsku agendu, odnosno pregovore, imajući u vidu da je obaveza države da sve zakonske tekstove iz poglavlja 23 i 24 šalje na usaglašavanje EK, on je odgovorio da smatra da će doći do usaglašavanja teksta zakona sa EK, ali da se ne smije zaboraviti da vlast može suvereno donositi određena zakoska rješenja.

„Tačno je da će ovako postavljene normativne intervencije vlast moći da opravda jedino ozbiljnim rezultatima na polju borbe protiv visoke korupcije i organizovanog kriminala. Naime, primarni su rezultati, kada se zakoni usvoje i prođe vrijeme postaje manje bitno da li smo se sporili ili ne oko normativnih rješenja“, zaključio je Marić.

Izvor: https://mina.news/crnagora/zakonodavna-i-izvrsna-vlast-da-uvaze-sugestije-evropskih-partnera/

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