President of the managing board of the Institute Alternative, Stevo Muk, is one of the members of the Council for the Development of NGOs as a representative for “rule of law” area.
The inaugural session meeting of the Council was held on 15 September this year, and three sessions have been held since then. Council is chaired by the Minister without portfolio Marija Vučinović, President of the Council, and elected deputy at the inaugural session, Ana Novaković, the Executive Director of the Centre for Development of NGOs (CRNVO).
So far, the Council has raised several key questions:
- Disadvantages of the Analysis of the institutional framework for the provision of activities related to the development of the NGO sector in Montenegro, which should reform, among other things, the system of financing of NGOs from the budget of Montenegro,
- adoption of the Councils’ work program for the coming year,
- status of NGO representatives in working groups for negotiating chapters,
- programming /planning IPA funds for 2014,
- unrealized activities from strategic documents for the development of NGOs,
- conditions for the realization of the right by NGOs, to use state property, following the ”Civic house” model
- At the inaugural session and at the following three sessions, the Council discussed the draft version of the Analyses of the institutional framework for the provision of activities related to the development of the NGO sector, prepared by the intersectoral working group in cooperation with the representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance and the Office for Cooperation with NGOs and two representatives of non-governmental organizations. It was concluded that the Analysis opened many important questions, but it did not give adequate and complete answers to the problems in practice; therefore the harmonization of the Analyses continues.
- Opinions on the draft version of ”The Rules of Procedure of the Council” were exchanged, which is an internal document that defines the particular procedure, in order to clearly trace methodology and functioning of the Council over the next four years, and clarify those situations where the appropriate application of the Rules of Procedure of the Government is rather complicated. Among other suggestions, in addition, the proposal of the president of the IAs’ managing board, Stevo Muk, was approved and it consists of introducing an obligation to the Rules of Procedure of the Council, by which every session meeting record must obtain voting data of every specific Council member, on each agenda item.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFA) has been asked to provide information about the participation of NGO representatives in working groups for negotiating chapters as well as consultations with NGOs in the process of IPA II funds for the period 2014-2020. MFA has provided certain information and clarifications, however, since they did not submit all the required information on the issues, but only for negotiating chapters 23 and 24, Mr. Muk sent a proposal to amend the information on the work groups for all negotiating chapters. He also insisted on a definitive answer regarding the consultation with NGOs in the programming process of IPA II funds, for the period 2014-2020. During the discussion, it was noted that procedures data regarding the preparation of the Framework Agreement, which is the basis for the use of IPA funds (concluded between the Commission and the beneficiary country of IPA II funds and refers to the seven-year period) is unknown, and so are the specifics on the participation of NGOs in the process. Regarding the previously mentioned facts, different treatment of the “ownership” of the document issue has been emphasized (if it is belonging to the EC or the Government) which creates additional confusion, so it is concluded that the MFA should provide information on the ownership of a key document but in the sense of a clear addressing of the issue, concerning the NGO involvement in consultations , in the following period.
- The Agenda contained the list of unfulfilled obligations in 2014 from two Action Plans, AP Strategy for the Development of NGOs and AP for the Chapter 23, which are under the authority of the Council and should be listed in Work plan of the Council for 2015. Considering that the revision of the AP for the negotiating chapter 23 can be expected soon, and an annual report on the implementation of the AP Strategy should be composed, the next step was adopted- composing of the Councils’ Work Plan for 2015 after the aforementioned revision. The Council should review the Plan, after considering the report on the AP Strategy in 2014.
- Mr. Stevo Muk also requested information from the Government of Montenegro on negotiations (discussions) between the Government (the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Sustainable Development) with the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation (RBF), headquartered in New York, NGO Foundation “Fund for Active Citizenship” (FACT), non-governmental organization “Center for Democratic Transition” (CDT), NGO Foundation “Civic Alliance” (GA) and the capital Podgorica on installing a construction building called “Civic House”, in Podgorica. According to information from the media, the intention of the Government is to permanently assign these NGOs specific plot owned by the state of Montenegro, and Podgorica Capital will exempt these three NGOs/foundations from the payment of utilities while RBF would finance construction of the facility, which will be owned by previously mentioned NGOs. Without wishing to enter into the nature of the relationship of CDT, FACT, GA and RBF, which are private entities, the key question is whether the Government and the Capital would be willing to provide the same rights and conditions to other interested non-governmental organizations, in order to meet their office and work needs? The initiative in its entirety can be found here (in Montenegrin only!).
About the Council for the Development of NGOs:
The Council has a president (Government representative) and 22 members (11 representatives of the Government and 11 representatives of NGOs), appointed by the Government for a period of four years.
The main task of the Council is to:
- monitor the implementation of the Strategy for Development of NGOs in Montenegro with its Action Plan for implementation, for the period 2014-2016 ; as well as the implementation of the Action Plan for the Chapter 23, Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, with reference to the cooperation with NGOs;
- give opinions on draft legislation, i.e. the strategic and other documents relating to the operation and development of NGOs in Montenegro in order to create stimulating environment for their work;
- initiate adoption of new legislation or amendments to existing one, in order to create stimulating environment for the operation and development of non-governmental organizations;
- proposing to the Government of Montenegro priority areas of public interest and the amount of funding for projects or programs of non-governmental organizations, from the state budget;
- encouraging and improving cooperation between the Government and public administration with non-governmental organizations in the country and abroad, as well as with relevant entities in the international community, etc.