Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the Decision of the Constitutional Court which established as unconstitutional and illegal the provision of the Decision on the Establishment of the Negotiation Structure for the Accession of Montenegro to the European Union that enabled the then Minister of European Affairs, Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, to perform the function of Chief negotiator in the status of ambassador. More precisely, the Constitutional Court found that the Government of Montenegro in that period and with that Decision violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers on the incompatibility of functions and compliance of legal regulations.
CCE considers that it is especially important that such a decision indicates the readiness of the Constitutional Court to decide on the constitutionality of the decisions amended even by the Government after the initiative is submitted to the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality in order to avoid the consequences of a negative decision. The question remains: will anyone be held responsible for this unconstitutional decision, which undoubtedly caused damage?
CCE reminds that the previous practice of the Constitutional Court was to suspend the proceedings until the circumstances were established, or the provisions of regulation were amended, and which led to the situation that if these provisions were amended, the Constitutional Court did not give its position on whether or not that norm was constitutional at the time the regulations were valid. This decision is, to the best of the CCE’s knowledge, the first of its kind and can be an important mechanism for preventing violations of the Constitution and the law through decisions of institutions.
On 1 February 2018, the CCE submitted an initiative to the then Prime Minister, Duško Marković, to initiate proceedings to dismiss Pejović for violating the Constitution regarding the incompatibility of functions, as well as a request to the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (ACP) to initiate proceedings against Pejović to determine conflict of interest and restrictions to acting as a public official. In addition, on 22 February 2018, the CCE submitted an initiative to review the constitutionality of the disputed decision to the Constitutional Court of Montenegro. A similar proposal was submitted to the Constitutional Court by the MPs of Democratic Montenegro.
In the proceedings it conducted, the ACP determined that several laws were violated in this case, namely the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the Law on Foreign Affairs, the Law on Salaries of Public Sector Employees, as well as international conventions in the anti-corruption field.
This case also endangered the reputation of the state of Montenegro, because it was the first example where the Chief negotiator of one state, who should be a role model for respecting the rule of law, as the foundation of the EU, became a symbol of violating a number of laws for material gain, with elements of unjust enrichment.
The credibility of the government is also measured by the responsibility towards the public interest, and the role of the non-governmental sector is to point out the deviations of the authorities. The complete process, in this case, took a long time, but nowadays it is indisputable that all the CCE’s allegations have been institutionally proven.
CCE appeals to all institutions of the system to take into account this position of the Constitutional Court when making all decisions in the future so that such mistakes would not be repeated. Finally, we appeal to all other competent authorities to initiate the procedure of determining all forms of liability for the damage done in the Pejović case, in all aspects.
Vasilije Radulović, Programme associate