System of awarding honorary citizenship must be transparent

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) is again pointing out the controversies of awarding the so-called honorary Montenegrin citizenships and the opaqueness of this process, and which often jeopardises the reputation of the country considering who are the ‘lucky winners’ of Montenegrin honorary citizenship.

As per data CCE’s data,  total of 250 honorary citizenships were awarded from May 2008 until September 2018. CCE has published list of 203 persons in 2015, in the publication ‘Honorary citizenships – awarder to whom and how?’, with additional 14 names subsequently through efforts to put the issue of legality of awarding of these citizenships under the scrutiny of the Prosecution due to determined irregularities from public reactions of the authorised institutions. In the meantime, the CCE has received list with 33 persons more.

Until today, there is no complete list of citizens who have received these citizenships on the website of the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for such records. Moreover, the clarifications which are being given in decisions on awarding of honorary citizenships are crude and formalistic, without elaboration of the precise reason for admission to citizenship, thus it is unknown what is particularly recommending the majority of these persons not to enter the procedure for applying for citizenship which is valid for all other persons. The public should know what is the contribution of public interest of all those who have been awarded or will be awarded the honorary citizenships in order to limit further abuses of this institute and not to have controversial persons as one of the most recognizable honorary citizens, such as Dahlanor Shinawatra, who by their acts are bringing Montenegro into centre of attention in negative manner.

This issue is especially important considering the supremely restrictive conditions for acquiring Montenegrin citizenshipand the fact that certain number of citizens of Montenegro are still undergoing the procedure for acquiring the citizenship in the accordance with the Law on Citizenship of Montenegro from 2008, given also the fact that they have been living in Montenegro even prior to entry into force of this Law. Therefore, the authorised bodies have an obligation to responsibly and transparently act before the public when it comes to awarding the honorary citizenships.

Mira Popovic, Programme Associate