Representatives of the NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro attended an online conference on the state of democracy in Montenegro, where results of a Democracy Index 2020 study, organized by the NGO CEDEM in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Introductory speakers at the conference were the Director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), Milena Bešić, the Regional Director of the Hanns Seidel Foundation for Southeast Europe, Dr. Klaus Fiesinger and the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, MA.
The director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Milena Bešić, pointed out that the eight-year anniversary of negotiations with the European Union warns that we currently have three temporarily closed chapters, and that the new methodology requires greater political will and determination of political actors to improve implementation of the adopted normative framework and implement necessary reforms.
“Inefficient and bureaucratized institutions, nepotism, clientelism, corruption and irresponsibility are just some of the characteristics that are read in the reports of the European Commission and international organizations for Montenegro.” The previous four years were marked by the absence of the expected reform of the election legislation, the boycott of the parliament by a part of the opposition, civil protests, as well as the trial of two leaders of the then opposition parties. All this has resulted in a decline in citizens’ trust in institutions, “said Bešić.
She stressed the importance of affirming democracy as a fundamental value and characteristic of society, rather than as a means to achieve the desired goals of a policy.
“Our research confirms that the majority of citizens want to see Montenegro as a civil, democratic and western-oriented country, outside the influence of religious organizations,” Bešić said.
The Regional Director of the Hanns Seidel Foundation for Southeast Europe, Dr. Klaus Fiesinger, said that the basic pillars of democracy, such as political pluralism, the rule of law, are extremely important for the stability of democracy, and that it is very important to follow and that this is precisely the task of CEDEM.
The President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, pointed out that the Parliament, by strengthening its control and supervisory function, i.e. respecting its constitutional role, will give one of the most significant contributions to the development of democratic processes in the country.
“In that way, we will ensure the trust of citizens in the highest legislative and representative house, because without trust there can be no question of the legitimacy of institutions, and without legitimacy, it is almost impossible to talk about democracy,” Bečić said.
He also stated that one of the most important messages sent in the 27th convocation of the Assembly so far is the fact that several initiatives and proposals have already been signed together by the presidents of all parliamentary clubs, both the government and the opposition.
“The message is: we are ready to subordinate our various party interests to a higher goal, and that is the common interest of all citizens and the state of Montenegro as such,” Bečić said.
He also said that the reform of the judiciary is no less important, which, when consistently implemented, will undoubtedly and decisively affect Montenegro’s tangible step forward in Chapters 23 and 24.
“In other words, only with the realization of these activities will we lay a solid foundation for future democratic processes in our country,” Bečić concluded.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dr. Dritan Abazović, believes that after August 30, there is no more political monopoly in Montenegro and that at this moment we have a very fragmented political scene.
What the Government has determined as a priority is to fulfill the obligations from the European agenda in the best possible way, said Abazović.
He pointed out that “We must start a decisive fight against corruption and organized crime. We need to show a greater degree of transparency of public institutions, we need to remove secrecy marks from documents that should not be secret. We need to enable the civil sector to be present and to give expertise and support to various projects. We must realize the concept of Montenegro as an ecological state. We must liberate the institutions. That process is not revenge, but it is a call to account.”
He said that the new government has the main task, which is to protect the public interest in every segment and to protect public finances and the state budget.
He also said that we must reconcile and that we should not push the country into hostile tensions because our capacities are small in relation to the region and the EU, and that Montenegro can only achieve the goal of joining the European Union in joint action.
The author of the research and the main methodologist of CEDEM, prof. Dr. Miloš Bešić, stated that the research also analyzes the trend that covers the period since independence of Montenegro to the change of long-term government.
“The key chart shows the state of democracy for all key areas, namely politics, law, economy, education, media, minorities, women, disability. And this data indicates that the measurement values range from 0.42 to 0.66. Today, we measure the highest degree of democracy in Montenegrin society when it comes to the attitude towards national and religious minorities, and that value is 0.66. That is all thanks to the positive trends that have taken place from 2009 until today”, said Bešić.
The next area in which, as he said, the situation is quite solid is education, where the value is 0.58.
“In those two areas, we can be more or less satisfied when it comes to the state of democracy. When it comes to gender equality the value is 0.50, and when it comes to people with disabilities the value is 0.48. The biggest problems of the state of democracy in Montenegro are in the following areas: politics, law, media (0.43) and economy (0.42). So, when it comes to democracy in the economic life in Montenegro, we have the biggest problem”, explained Bešić.
Regressive trends in the state of democracy in Montenegro are, as he said, present from 2012 until today, but despite the pronounced negative trends in the last eight years, it can still be said that the level of democracy in Montenegro today is at a slightly higher level than that was the case thirteen years ago.
“When it comes to the state of democracy in Montenegro, we started from 0.47 in 2007. We had fluctuating values, but we made some progress in 2012 (0.52). From then on, obviously bad things happened in democracy, and today we have a symbolic 0.02 index points more than in 2007 (0.49)”, Bešić explained.