Press release: Opposition to chair the Security and Defense Committee

Among all requests submitted by the opposition with regard to the constitution of the working bodies and presiding over them, the chairmanship of the Defence and Security Committee is one of the most necessary and legitimate one.

Such solution would finally comply with resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the rights and obligations of the opposition in democratic Parliament, which says that “the chairmanship of committees that are responsible for overseeing the work of the Government, such as the Committee on Budget and Finance Committee, the Inquiry Committee or Committee of oversight of the security and intelligence agencies, should belong to the MPs from the opposition.”

Security and Defense Committee is a working body whose main task is the oversight of this important sector, and as such naturally chairmanship belongs to the opposition because of the effective exercise of its jurisdiction. Montenegro is an exception in the region, since the parliamentary oversight of security and defense sector is centralized in one working body of the Parliament. The need for opposition to chair this Committee is thus even more pronounced.

We remind that in the previous convocation, the Committee acted without the vice-president from the opposition, which was also a lack and a barrier to its effective work.

Solution that would provide opposition’s MP to chair the Committee would give more space to opposition to act in the Committee, increase confidence in its work and in the overall work of the security and defense sector.

We determined that the one of the key successes of the Security and Defence Committee in the previous convocation was the approval and adoption of a comprehensive legal framework for the exercise of parliamentary oversight in this area. Unfortunately, the Committee was not able to conduct a thorough oversight at the same time although the Law on Parliamentary Oversight created the possibility and obligation for it.

The work of the Committee in the previous convocation was characterized by the insufficient use of available control mechanisms and uncertain result of the exercise of parliamentary oversight. General conclusions, passivity of both- the ruling coalition and the opposition, rejection of a significant number of opposition’s initiatives, neglected entire area over which control was supposed to be performed (eg, monitoring of the implementation of the SSM), unregular revision of the reports on the work of the institutions under oversight, are just some of the issues that characterized the work of the Committee.

Opposition chairmanship over the Committee, though not a solution to all of these questions itself, would be a good chance to raise parliamentary oversight of the security and defense sector to a higher level. This solution would represent not only an opportunity but also an obligation for the opposition to show constructive approach to the jurisdiction of this working body to control the Executive.

Marko Sošić
Public Policy Researcher

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