Centre for Civic Education (CCE) commends decision of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (APC) in the case of Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic, Minister of European Affairs in the Government of Montenegro and Chief Negotiator in the status of an ambassador, which has determined that Pejovic has violated Law on Prevention of Corruption, but also Law on Foreign Affairs, Law on Salaries of Employees in Public Sector, international conventions in the area of fight against corruption as well as the Constitution of Montenegro.
Decision of APC confirms CCE’s argumentative assertions that Pejovic is in conflict of interest due to simultaneous performance of two public functions and is generating income per both grounds thus violating Articles 7 and 28 of Law on Prevention of Corruption. Additionally, APC has undeniably determined also violation of Article 109 of the Law on Foreign Affairs stating that he is member of Main Board of DPS which is incompatible with his diplomatic-consular function, although he denied it in his statement. Furthermore, granting himself larger earnings than those prescribed by Article 17 of the Law on Salaries of Employees in Public Sector, Pejovic has jeopardized also this Law. Finally, Pejovic is violating also the UN Convention against Corruption – UNCAC, which Montenegro has ratified, as well as the International Code of Conduct for Public Officials, but also the Article 104 of Constitution of Montenegro.
CCE has assessed that this was expected and the only possible legal decision.
In accordance with this, CCE asks the President of Government Dusko Markovic to urgently initiate procedure of dismissal of Pejovic from all functions, since this has proved that he has subordinated the public interest to private one in order to acquire material benefits for himself, with full awareness of what he is doing, thus legitimising himself as unworthy of exercising public functions. Such public official is harming the state interest in the state and abroad, especially taking into consideration his portfolio. Such public official should not get away easy as per already seen system of resignations, but must be dismissed for the purpose of also sending a message from the highest instance that there is political will to change the system and to establish zero tolerance for such subordination of public interest to private one and compromising trust of citizens in conscientious and responsible performance of a public function, as the APC has stated itself.
Severity of this case is given by a fact that this he is Minister who is also Chief Negotiator for Accession to the EU, i.e. he should be introducing the best European standards and practice by his own work and conduct, and not be leader in violation of law and symbol of all that we have to overcome within administration. Any further engagement of Pejovic in the process of Montenegro’s accession to the EU would be a direct mockery towards commitments that EU imposed before us.
CCE especially commends efficiency in the conduct of the APC and expresses hope that its conduct also in all other cases, when it comes to high officials will be equally efficient, legally founded and non-selective. Furthermore, we encourage both APC and other state bodies to be more proactive in the examination of status and property of public officials, and we will continue to point out, and to the extent possible, document violations of law by the same public officials from the position of civil society organisation.
Ana Nenezic, Coordinator of Programme Democratisation and Europeanisation