MI and NGO CCE: There is progress, transparency needs to be improved

Today, Minister of the Interior, Sergej Sekulović, met with the representatives of the non-governmental organization Centre for Civic Education (CCE), to exchange arguments regarding the granting of honorary citizenships in the previous period, as well as the current practice of the Ministry of the Interior (MI).

Interpretations of Article 12 of the Law on Montenegrin Nationality were presented at the meeting, where Minister Sekulović agreed with the representatives of the CCE. The interlocutors agreed that the proposal for admission to Montenegrin citizenship based on the special interest of the state must be submitted by one of the three presidents (president of the state, Government, or Parliament). For this reason, since 4 December 2020, the Ministry of the Interior has changed the previous practice by deciding exclusively on requests where the proposer is one of the three presidents.

Miroslav Zeković, Director General of the Directorate for Administrative Affairs, Citizenship and Foreigners, presented and explained his interpretation of Article 12 of the Law on Montenegrin Nationality, on the basis of which he considers that the previous practice was legal.

Regarding the initiative of the CCE to annul the decision on citizenship in cases where the proposer was not prescribed by law, Minister Sekulović stated that there is no relevant case law that would be the basis for initiating the procedure of annulment of the decision on citizenship. Potentially, this issue can be interpreted through Article 140 of the Law on General Administrative Procedure, where the deadline for annulment of the decision is one year.

Representatives of the CCE emphasized that Article 139, paragraph 1, item 7 of the Law on General Administrative Procedure is applicable in this case, in which the prescribed deadline for annulment of the decision is longer, i.e. ten years. They pointed out the need to check whether there are reasons for withdrawing certain citizenships based on damaging the state’s vital interest, in accordance with the Law on Montenegrin Citizenship.

At the meeting, it was concluded that there is progress in the transparency of the work of the bodies regarding the procedures for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship, especially when it comes to the explanation of the decision. It was also jointly concluded that there is room for improving transparency.

It has been agreed to intensify cooperation, which will have concrete results in the issues discussed today.

On behalf of CCE, the meeting was attended by Damir Suljević, Milica Zindović and Nikola Mirković, while the representatives of the MI, in addition to Minister Sekulić, were Zoran Miljanić, Miroslav Zeković, Jelena Maraš and Lahira Duraković.