What is to be done?

Stevo MukWith all due understanding of dissatisfaction with the negotiations between the government and opposition, now it is of utmost importance for the opposition to take a stance with regard to the constitutional changes, and to be more responsible than in the past while taking part in the drafting of the new electoral legislation.

The largest opposition formation should go back to the Parliament of Montenegro. Their boycott is harmful for the dynamics and quality of the Parliament’s work. Consequently, it has a negative impact to the quality of decisions made by MPs, such as appointments of the new members of the Senate of the State Audit Institution, debate on the bill of Law on Social and Child Protection, discussions on the reports of important state bodies and so on. With all due understanding of dissatisfaction with the negotiations between the government and opposition, now it is of utmost importance for the opposition to take a stance with regard to the constitutional changes, and to be more responsible than in the past while taking part in the drafting of the new electoral legislation. Contribution of the non-governmental organizations to this process shouldn’t be neglected this time in the manner it happened before.

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We should think out the society’s response to the situation in which Mrs. Ranka Carapic, surrounded by other candidates, looks like Mother Teresa. We need to ensure that the list of candidates for the Supreme State Prosecutor is extended by the names of experienced professionals, people with integrity capable of running the state prosecution independently and of earning support of the required parliamentary majority. This is not an issue only attached to the appointment of the Supreme State Prosecutor, but a decade long practice when it comes to the selection of top posts for which the candidates apply following the public vacancy procedures. This is an issue whose qualitative changes are dependent neither on constitutional changes nor on the determining the necessary majority required for the appointment of judicial post. It is thus important for us to tackle this problem as soon as possible ahead of appointment, not only of the Supreme State Prosecutor, but also of other important posts.

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I expect opposition MPs, or, better to day, all the members of the Committee for Defense and Security, to assure us that they do an honest and good job. Alleged “official-state secret” cannot be a justification or alibi for poor information and reasoning of the discussion’s results about the reports, as it was the case with the discussion of the report of National Security Agency. Spinning of the irrelevant topics ahead of debate, during the debate and after the debate about the report raised doubt in their good will and intention. Statements about the small number of organized criminal groups in Montenegro can be interpreted only as an offense against the people’s intelligence or a joke..

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Parliament, as a legislative branch of power, must take a serious stance about the current crisis of the public procurement in health sector (procurement of medicines and medical equipment). I suggest to Committee for Economy, Finance and Budget to, together with the Committee For Health, Work and Social Care, organize a consultative hearing of responsible stake-holders with an aim of detecting the best legal solutions and practices in the field which would prevent similar crisis to occur again in the near future. Annually, in this field is spent almost fifty million euro. The main beneficiaries are patient, sick people, citizens! The duty of the society and the state is ensuring the minimal conditions for health care during the entire year. Preventing of the people in need to become a victim of law, bureaucracy and corruption, should be our duty… We must prevent shortage of medicines to occur again in 2014.

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Action plans, which are preconditions for opening of Chapters 23 and 24 must address the key remarks of the European Commission, and take into account the recommendations of non-governmental organizations and other interested parties. Communication between the chief negotiator and Parliament of Montenegro in that respect is poor. Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, and chief negotiator must ensure that all the competent committees built confidence in the work of negotiation teams, give their contribution and oversee the process. Committee for European Integration, Committee for Political System, Administration and Judiciary, Committee for Human Rights, and Committee for Anti-Corruption must be more proactive while seeking its role in the negotiations and give contribution to the final version of action plans for chapters 23 and 24.

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In draft action plans, Government of Montenegro offers contours of new institutions for fight against organized crime and corruption. On one hand, it envisages establishment of anti-.corruption agency which should replace several institutions which mainly monitor the co-called political corruption. On the other hand, the repressive role would be undertaken by the new independent prosecutor based on the Croatian model. The timeline of the draft action plans implies that these institutions won’t be fully functional before 2015 or 2016. In the meantime, Government must answer the question: Which concrete steps will Montenegro make and which results deliver in the fight against corruption and organized crime can promise in the period before the newly envisaged institutions become operational? How many efficient prosecutorial investigations will be undertaken in the fields, which Government itself recognized as highly susceptible to corruption? For example, in the field of public procurement, concessions, public-private partnerships, local administrations and privatizations, among the ministers and directors of public companies etc. The answer to that question and solid pile of evidence gathered by the prosecution, which would be difficult to dispute by the first next verdict, will determine the fate of talks about these chapters.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

The article was originally published in the “Forum” section of the daily “Vijesti”

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