Clearer, more cautious and more transparent on the conditions for Montenegrin Citizenship

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the decision of the Government of Montenegro to temporarily postpone the consideration of the Decision on amending the Decision on the criteria for determining the conditions for the acquisition of Montenegrin Citizenship by admission, given that it has caused a lot of controversy in the public.

Although to date there has been no official information from the Government on this issue, it was announced in the media yesterday that the Government is planning to change this Decision at today’s session to envisage a temporary residence amongst the manners to acquire a legal residence, as a basis for the acquisition of Montenegrin Citizenship.

It is indisputable that the Government, pursuant to the Law on Montenegrin Citizenship, has the authority to make such a decision. However, the CCE assesses that at a time of heightened tensions, and especially regarding everything related to identity issues, the Government is obliged to approach such decisions with due care and previous analyses, which include a broader social dialogue.

Also, this issue should be resolved together with specifying clearer conditions for acquiring the so-called honorary citizenship, which has been one of the controversial issues for years, as CCE has been pointing out.

The Ministry of Interior has previously prepared a Law on Registers of Residence and Domicile, which would finally, through up-to-date record keeping of residence, exclude from the voter list all those persons who unconstitutionally exercise the right to vote in Montenegro, but been living abroad for years. For the sake of transparency and legitimacy, and bearing in mind that this has consequences for the upcoming election processes, we assess that the issues linked to Montenegrin citizenship should have been left to the Parliament, and especially having in mind the current renewal of the Committee for Election Reform which opens adequate opportunity to resolve this issue within the framework of a wider dialogue.

CCE expresses doubts that there is a real need to simplify the procedure for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship, given that the existing criteria are not more complex than those in some other countries. However, the existing norms regulating this issue must be implemented more consistently and with a guarantee of respect for the rights of every person.

Petar Đukanović, Programme director