The judgement of the Administrative court is political and legally senseless

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) assesses that the judgement of the Administrative Court Council, composed of Biserka Bukvić, Srđan Klikovac and Mirjana Milić, following the complaint of the former Minister of European Affairs, Chief Negotiator of Montenegro with the EU and Ambassador Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, is political and legally senseless.

On 1 February 2018, the CCE submitted an Initiative to the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković, for starting the procedure of dismissal of Aleksandar Andrija Pejović from duty due to the violation of the Constitution in relation to incompatibility of the office, as well as the request to the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (APC) to initiate the procedure against Pejović for determining conflict of interest and limitations in performing public duties. The CCE has explained in detail and supported with evidence the request and initiative, which was duly delivered to the interested public.

The Administrative Court ruling states that the Court found that Pejović, as the Minister of European Affairs, also performed the duties of the Chief Negotiator in the Mission of Montenegro to the EU as the ambassador, and that besides the basic salary he received also special supplement, which even Pejović himself did not dispute. The Court argues that the Agency’s conclusion that Pejović besides the ministerial function had the function of the ambassador is not factually and legally sustainable, as per the Court, ‘the status of the ambassador’ is a diplomatic title, not a function.

The explanation that someone has the status of an ambassador regardless of not doing the job of the ambassador is legally absurd if the person is at the same time well paid exactly because he is an ambassador. According to this logic, Srđan Darmanović, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, should have an additional salary for the ambassadors’s title, i.e. 3,000 euros more – the amount that Pejović received as an ambassador, as Darmanović has the same diplomatic title, as well as a significant number of employees in the MFA, which, of course, is against the grain.

It is crucial that the Administrative Court has not discussed the conflict of interest at all, which was the sole focus of the dispute, but dealt with the wrong issues. The judgement itself does not mention Article 3 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption in which the definition of a public official is given, so it is not clear how and on which basis the Administrative Court found that it is not a public function. But, it is clear that the Court did not make decision on the basis of the Law on Prevention of Corruption, nor did it explain why the minister can perform the work of the ambassador and receive a salary for this in addition to the current ministerial salary. And, is there any other example in the world in which is this possible or the Administrative Court of Montenegro is introducing what no country has seen so far? Finally, and very importantly, in the ruling of the Administrative Court there is no word about an explicit Constitutional provision that clearly prohibits such situation.

APC should make the same decision again because it cannot be disputable in its essence, as the Administrative Court states. We believe that Pejović  will not again complain because it will be difficult to find other three judges who would be willing to sign something similar. This judgement seriously jeopardized the credibility of not only the three judges that decided on it but the Administrative Court itself. These three judges superficially and without regard to the law, have ruled that Pejović did not have a function but a title of an ambassador, although it is undisputed that he had drawn numerous benefits precisely on the basis of a function, not a title. That is why this is legally meaningless and political decision, which only points to the capture of the judicial system in Montenegro.

Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director