On the subject of the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (hereinafter: MFAEI) to our press release “The European Commission report on corruption at the local level is being concealed”, we wish to inform the public that Institute Alternative (hereinafter: IA) was informed about the stance of the European Commission (hereinafter: EC) on this issue in a response to our request delivered by MFAEI on 3 August 2015. In the response to our request for free access to information, it was stated that the reports compiled within expert missions are the property of the Commission, but that the EC shall decide separately on each case whether or not the report should be made available to the interested party. Accordingly, IA submitted the request to the MFAEI on 31 December 2015 seeking the report of the expert mission which relates to corruption at the local level. Responding to our request, the MFAEI informed us that the report is classified and under the designation “restricted” and that therefore we could not obtain it (the response of the MFAEI is available at the end of this text). Hence, we were not informed about the decision of the EC in this particular case, but only that the request is denied because the document is classified.
From the response stating “even though we knew that the report in question is not yet complete” is not clear whether MFAEI is in possession of this “unfinished work”. If the answer is negative, then in the rationale behind the decision should have stated that the Ministry is not in possession of the requested document.
Additionally, the MFAEI did not state in its response that the Commission was contacted, or that the EC has not denied our request, but stated that the document has not yet been completed. Finally, our reaction is driven by the question “Did you decide on the availability of the document which is not your property”, since such conclusion follows from the MFAEI’s response.
Following the MFAEI’s press release, we submitted another request to the Ministry seeking the EC’s stance regarding our previous request demanding the report on corruption at the local level because it was not delivered to us nor did we know it existed (the copy of the request submitted is available at the end of this text).
IA will continue to insist on the full transparency of the negotiation process. We will address relevant Montenegrin institutions, as well as the European Commission explaining why it is important to allow access to its reports, which would previously be redacted in order to ensure protection of personal data and information on ongoing investigations.