Who proposed 172 honorary citizenships to the Government?

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) received a response from the Ministry of Interior and Public Administration (MoI) regarding the names of persons who were proposed by the president of Government of Montenegro for the honorary citizenship, as well as the number and list of the remaining persons who were not amongst those proposed for honorary citizenship by legally prescribed proposers.

Upon the publication of the CCE report “Honorary citizenships – awarded to whom and how?”, MoI reacted stating that Prime Minister did not propose 195 but 26 persons. We remind that the CCE obtained precise information from the President of state and President of Parliament on the number and names of proposed persons, which sums it up to 8 (eight), and when subtracted from 203 (the number of total awarded by the end of July of 2015), we come to 195. Given that the Law on Montenegrin Citizenship recognises only three proposers – presidents of state, Government and Parliament – the CCE came to the conclusion that the difference of 195 relates to the Prime Minister. MoI denied this in its reaction by stating that the Prime Minister proposed only 26 persons which raised the question – who are these persons who were not proposed in line with the Law.

In the decision of MoI it is stated that 26 persons were proposed by the two Montenegrin Prime Ministers from May 2008 to July 2015, out of which Igor Lukšić proposed 9, and all 9 proposals were adopted, whereby Milo Đukanović proposed 17, out of which 13 were adopted, or 4 of his proposals did not pass (Asil Dahlan, Hadeel Dahlan, Firas Dahlan and Fadil Dahlan), and these relate to part of the family of Mohammed Dahlan, who was awarded with honorary Montenegrin citizenship, along with his wife in 2010.

From the list of the remaining 175 persons who were proposed for the honorary citizenship by the proposers not identified by the Law as such, 173 were awarded with honorary citizenships, whereby Snežana Damjanac and Milena Krivokapić were not, and one person was proposed also by an authorised proposer.

The fact that 175 persons officially proposed for the reception in honorary citizenship were not proposed by any legal proposer is concerning. Article 12 stipulates the following:

 Notwithstanding the conditions under Article 8 of the this Law a person over 18 years of age may exceptionally obtain Montenegrin citizenship through naturalization if this is to the benefit of the state for scientific, economic, cultural, economic, sports national or other interest of Montenegro
 Ministry of Interior and Public Administration decide on the reception in Montenegrin citizenship, which is of state and other interest of Montenegro, based on the proposal of President of Montenegro, President of Parliament of Montenegro or President of Government of Montenegro.
 On admission into Montenegrin citizenship under paragraph 1 of this Article, shall decide the Ministry of Interior and Public Administration, with the opinion of the competent state body for the area from paragraph 1 of this Article

In its decision no. 03- UPI-211/15/6060, MoI referred to Article 12, p. 3 of Law on Montenegrin Citizenship and ignored paragraph 2 which clearly states who are the authorised proposers, regardless of administrative body which may initiate the procedure, but it is not legally authorised to propose. Besides, the initiative, which is by the nature of matters broader, can essentially be initiated by anyone, however the proposal, which marks the beginning of formal-legal procedure, must come from an authorised proposer.

Hence, the interpretation of MoI is incorrect, since they interpret paragraph 3 of this Law as a separate article, which is contrary to any known legal theory and practice. Namely, the procedure envisaged under Article 12 is perfectly clear: it prescribes the conditions based on which the proposers of procedure of awarding the honorary citizenship can explicitly be – presidents of state, Parliament and Government. Any other procedure not initiated pursuant to this initiative is illegal, which questions the legality of 172 honorary citizenships.

Mira Popović, programme associate