Who and why abolishes public discussions on key regulations

The Government of Montenegro, without public discussion, in a secret process and without any involvement of the public, passed the Amendments to the Law on State Administration. Amendments to the Law were determined at the session of 16 November 2017. Text of the amendments was not submitted for consideration even to the Public Administration Reform Council - an advisory body of the Government, which entirely paradoxically was precisely established in order to consider draft of regulations, strategic, planning and analytical documents in connection with public administration reform. The Law on State Administration is one of the key laws in the area of public administration reform.

With Amendments to the Law on State Administration, the Government has restricted implementation of public discussions ‘when the law, ie the strategy regulates issues in the area of defense and security and the annual budget; in emergency, urgent or unforeseeable circumstances; when the matter is not significantly regulated by law’. With this broad formulation, ministries have been given the opportunity to choose when to conduct a public discussion, namely, to avoid involvement of the public in the process of adopting acts of their choice.

Regarding the budget, the key reform document in this area, the Public Finance Management Reform Programme (integral part of the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2016-2020), has an objective to have greater openness and transparency of the state budget. The budget calendar defined by the Law on Budget and Fiscal Responsibility does not exclude possibility of a public discussion on the annual budget proposal, although the Ministry of Finance has not organized it so far. Instead of taking further steps in this direction, now another law is deemed to permanently provide public exclusion from the budget formulation process. We remind that public discussions on the budget of local self-governments are an explicit legal obligation, and that public discussion on the state budget is attempted to be explicitly prohibited by this proposal. Thus we come to a new paradox, which is that citizens are invited to participate in public budget discussions in their municipalities, while they are forbidden to participate in discussions on the state budget. It is obvious that the Government treats the state budget as a property that belongs to the Government, not to the citizens. »

Questioning borders by film

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) will from 10 to 16 December 2017, organize the VIII FAST FORWARD Human Rights Film Festival 2017 with the central programme in Podgorica in the PI ‘Budo Tomovic’ from 10 to 14 December, and with accompanying editions in Berane on 11 and 12 December in the Cultural Centre and in Kotor from 15 to 16 December in the Cinema Boka. 

FAST FORWARD 2017 is being realized with the support of the Commission for Allocation of Part of Revenues from Games of Chance of the Government of Montenegro, the Canadian Embassy, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Embassy of Italy, the Embassy of Israel, the US Embassy, as well as companies Metropolis, Studio Mouse, Post of Montenegro, PG Taxi and Compania de Vinos Montenegro. Partners of the Festival are PI CIC ‘Budo Tomovic’, BELDOCS, Sarajevo Film Festival, CC ‘Nikola Djurkovic’ from Kotor, Municipality of Kotor, Municipality of Berane and Centre for Culture Berane, while media sponsors are public service RTCG (TV and portal) and Vijesti (newspapers and portal).

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RECOM is a last chance for reconciliation in the region

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) in cooperation with Coalition for RECOM, organized today a debate on the topic of EU Support to transitional justice and reconciliation in the region.

On this occasion, Daliborka Uljarevic, Executive Director of CCE, stated that ‘it is important for us to discuss on future and establishment of sustainable mechanisms in the process of reconciliation in the region on this day, and we believe that RECOM is precisely such mechanism. Incursion on Dubrovnik, at the time named ‘War for Peace’, was a defeat of conscience and consciousness in Montenegro. This deranged act, that will produce multiple human tragedies must remain a testimony that admonishes and a motive for advocating to the end for facts on events that had their victims and their perpetrators, which left a profoundly negative trace in neighbourly relations. Only righteous and brave proceedings for war crimes, individualization of the guilt, publishing of documents that testify about decisions made by decision-makers of that time, may be a guarantor of security and stability of this region in the long term.‘ Finally, she pointed out the fact that we are ‘witnesses of region being still quite easily ‘flammable’ by irresponsible rhetorics, that more recent history in textbooks either ignores or represents with nationalistic colours, and therefore regional establishment of facts is important in order to constrict space for daily-political manipulations and interpretations that strenghten certain leaders but substantialy jeopardize cooperation and reconciliation, and RECOM offers exactly that.

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Cooperation of Government and NGO: one step forward, three backwards

A year of work of the Government of Montenegro, led by Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, has passed into an unexpectedly extremely unfavorable atmosphere for work and operation of non-governmental organizations. Namely, the Government has not made a single positive move towards fostering cooperation with the non-governmental sector, and certain Government actions in this field have taken us several years backwards.

Specifically, the Government of Montenegro has produced a Strategy for Enhancement of Encouraging Environment for Action of NGOs 2018-2020 in this year, without participation of NGOs to the end of this process. Something like this did not happen even in 2009 when the first Strategy for Cooperation between Government and NGOs was drafted. Even eight years ago, the Government recognized the need to involve NGO representatives in drafting a document that relates precisely to the position and work of NGOs. Now even this is being annulled. The Government itself completed the Strategy, feigning ‘involvement’ of NGOs by ‘enabling’ us to give opinions and suggestions at public discussion, when the possibility of influence on the document is very limited, although it is difficult to intervene on content of the document because of many deficiencies. No positive comment from the NGO representatives at the public discussion was directed to the Government Draft Strategy. It is therefore clear that, if such version of the Strategy is adopted, it will not help the further development of NGOs, but it can only serve the Government for formal reporting toward international actors. »