New Government should demonstrate political consistency in showdown with plagiarism

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the decision of the new Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković not to include the previous Minister of Science Sanja Vlahović in his team. This can indicate part of the political stand that those who are under the strong suspicion of having plagiarised their scientific work have no place in the Government of Montenegro.

As a reminder, CCE previously appealed to Government to remove Vlahović from the position of minister due to the existence of reasonable doubt that Vlahović plagiarised her scientific work, based on which she was appointed to position on the University of Mediterranean. Contrary to similar practices in more developed democratic states, Vlahović did not publically offer or submitted her resign, nor did the previous Prime Minister ask for her dismissal, which greatly harmed the reputation of state of Montenegro, which she represented being Minister of Science. Fact that there are evidence that have been publically disclosed on several previous occasions, namely, that Vlahović plagiarised 2/3 of her work, more precisely 63%, from the professor of Westminster’s University in Great Britain, Dimitrios Buhalis, and three Romanian authors, and, unfortunately did not result in her sanction at the University of Mediterranean, nor was this case adequately processed by the Basic State Prosecution. It seems that precisely the political function acted as her last line of defence and therefore it is more significant that she lost it.

Practice of states which advocate personal and political responsibility shows that such cases are quickly processed, and that high state officials are dismissed or that they submit their resign by default once the allegation of existence of plagiarism are raised. Montenegro is not one of those states that has such level of responsibility or academic rectitude, which made it possible for Vlahović to perform the function of Minister of Science for almost two years after it was publically documented and published that she plagiarised her scientific work.

CCE hopes that our previous proposals to Government, regarding the Operative document for the prevention of corruption in the areas of special risk, as well as for Action plan for partnership of open governments, will be implemented in due course. Among other things, these documents implied the prescription of measures to render all master and PhD works of academic structure of employees from high-education institutions in Montenegro, as well as of public officials, public and easily accessible, and in electronic form. Namely, this is a particularly important measure both in terms of prevention and fight against corruption in higher education, but also in the strengthening of academic rectitude and political accountability.

CCE will continue to monitor the work of Government in this area, hoping that such closure of «case Vlahović» in political part could contribute to full resolution of that case on other levels as well. It should be emphasised that this was not the case of an exception, but, as tendencies indicate, of widespread occurrence which requires a decisive and consistent reaction of Government and every other competent body.

Mira Popović, programme associate