All posts by Milica Bogdanović

Overwhelming problems in field of electoral integrity

Montenegro is facing overwhelming problems in the field of electoral integrity, said executive director of the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) Dragan Koprivica, adding that the institutions tasked with the elections are biased and ambiguous.

CDT, that analyzed the work of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ASK) and the State Electoral Commission (DIK), organized on Thursday the panel discussion “How to achieve electoral integrity”.

Opening the panel discussion, Koprivica said that DIK failed several important tests and expressed hope that in the following period things would change form roots.

“We can hardly speak about independence and unbiasedness when the institutions lean on what parties tell them without thorough investigation and content control. We can hardly speak about existence of accountability when the Agency says that there is no abuse of national resources in Montenegro, or that ASK is transparent when it does not release its own decisions”, said Koprivica.

ASK assistant director Savo Milasinovic said that the Agency has been acting upon the complaints and media allegations, reports and data regarding violation of the law on financing of political entities and election campaigns.

Commenting on the allegations that the Agency is carrying out formal control of the reports without carrying out essential investigative activities, he explained that ASK does not have any investigative authorities, but that it is an institution of prevention performing within its legal competence.

Branka Bosnjak of the Democratic Bloc believes that ASK implements double standards towards the opposition and the ruling majority.

She believes that finances donated to the political parties must be much more transparent.

DPS MP Marta Scepanovic said that there is always space for ASK and DIK’s improvement, and added that it is hypocritical to speak negatively about the Agency’s work only when its decisions do not suit one side.

President of the United Montenegro Goran Danilovic said that those institutions are not functional and professional since electoral process is not legitimate, and added that the only fair elections would be those prepared by the interim government.

Road Map for Good Governance for the state institutions in Montenegro

Good governance is key to rule of law. And while issues of corruption, transparency, rule of law and good governance are always in the spotlight, there remains a lack of understanding and systemic problems that hardly receive sufficient coverage.

The “Accountability, Technology and Institutional Openness Network in South East Europe – ACTION SEE” project aims to raise awareness of such challenges by facilitating cooperation among civic organizations and consolidated strategic efforts for representation.

In cooperation with partners from a regional network of NGOs Action SEE, Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) prepared the Roadmap for Good Governance for the State institutions in Montenegro, based on the Regional Index of Openness. 

We analyzed a level of transparency, openness and accountability of institutions in Montenegro and provide action steps for improvement.

The Regional Index of Openness of institutions is developed in order to establish to what extent citizens of the Western Balkans receive timely and understandable information from their institutions.

Coach site visits to ACTION SEE grantees

ACTION SEE coaches that work closely with grantees on implementation of their project, have organized coach site visits to awarded CSO’s. The purpose of these meetings was to advise and assist grantees in their project implementation.

Tasks of the coaches are to: facilitate the monitoring visits, complement the capacity building efforts and provide follow-up support to the CSOs, conduct outreach towards their constituents, the media and the relevant state institutions…

Coach site visits are organized with:

* Biciklo me. on 4th June, 10th July, 14th September 2018

* New Order on 15th May, 21st June, 11th July 2018

During these meetings coaches and grantees discussed on project activities, goals, plans, timeline, including both programme and financial component. Awardees from Montenegro are:

NGO – New order that implements “Citizens for better Local community” project that aims to provide the higher level of involvement of the citizens in the policy making process on local level as well as to increase reliability and accountability of the officials during electoral campaign as well as during their whole mandate.

Rising awareness of the citizens about the importance of their involvement in the functioning of the local government and decision making process is one of the key goals of this project, strongly related to the increasing of interest of citizens for the important topics and problems on the local level, based on their needs and obtained information about functioning of the municipal administration.

Also, establishing of the transparent and swift method of generating the needs of the citizens through public campaign is equally important, hence not less than to increase level of accountability of local officials in their regular and electoral activities.

Furthermore, increasing of reliability and responsibility of political parties for their actions during electoral campaign and after the elections and establishing of direct communication between citizens and officials, based on the mutual interest for the improvement of the local community is crucial for aiming the main goal of this project.

Finally, not less important is promotion of the importance of the NGOs and local media in the creating of policies on local level.

At the end of the project we will have more informed citizens about functioning of local government and its competence and responsibility toward community, widely educated citizens about methods of the involvement in the policy making and functioning of the local government, public officials that are aware of the importance of their accountability for their statements and actions, open and reliable promise making of the officials based of the registered citizens’ needs and interest of the local community, reinforced direct communication between citizens and officials and raised public awareness of the importance of involvement of local NGOs and media in the functioning of the local community.

NGO that implements “Project “Better Traffic – Better City” project, that aims to analyze problems arising in Podgorica as a result of inadequate and outdated public policies that regulate traffic.

Through online, desk and field research we will show how these problems impact the people and the space in the city, and propose solutions that could improve the current situation. Public debate about the present challenges and future plans for better and more efficient traffic system is significant part of the project, which is envisioned as an effort to help local institutions in tailoring better traffic policy.”

Less openness, institutions stagnate

On the occasion of the International Day for the Right to Free Access to Information, CDT organized a conference “Openness of Institutions of Executive Power in Montenegro and the Region”.

Milica Kovačević from CDT spoke about the regional Index of Openness of institutions which showed that institutions stagnate and do not meet the recommendations of the non-governmental sector to promote openness.

“The worrying trend is falling openness in Montenegro and the region,” Kovacevic said, and reminded that the Government of Macedonia, according to the latest research conducted by a network of organizations from this region Action SEE, is the most transparent government in the region and has overtaken the Government of Montenegro.

“There are still no policies that define openness. The institutions from the government through the ministries to the administrative bodies achieved results that are very different. Openness still depends on the will of the institution’s managers, not on clear policies and procedures, “she said.

Minister of Public Administration Suzana Pribilovic believes said that this year’s indicators are more numerous and more demanding, which affected the weakening of the results. “We appreciate that given recommendations are significant for future action, and I believe that this direction has been adequately defined by a number of measures and activities in the Draft of the National action plan for the Implementation of the Partnership for Open Government initiative,” said Pribilovic.

She also said that openness, efficiency and accountability in managing represent condition without which it is not possible to develop participatory democracy or democracy in general, which is a process that still lasts. While representing research results in detail, Biljana Papovic from CDT said that differences in the results of the institutions are very large.

On average, the ministries in Montenegro meet 60% of the openness criteria. The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism ranked the best with 76% of the openness indicators met. The Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs ranked the lowest and meets only 34% of the openness indicators.

“Such large differences in results are an evidence of unequal access to openness policies, and the need for strategic planning and development of openness at the level of all ministries”, Papovic said.

On average, the administration bodies meet 36% of the openness indicators.

A large number of administration bodies are not committed to meeting the highest standards of openness, and not even to meeting the legal minimum of proactive disclosure of information. Such practice is unacceptable and needs to be changed urgently.

In our sample, the highest ranked were the Tax Administration (72.5%), the Secretariat for Legislation (55%) and the Statistical Office of Montenegro (51%). The lowest ranked were the Directorate for Execution of Criminal Sanctions (15%) and the Directorate for Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (16%).

Liljana Pecova Ilieska from the Metamorfosis Foundation from Macedonia said that if there is no legal obligation to publish the information, institutions will not do it on their own initiative.

“We have to change that way of thinking. To change the awareness of officials – so to promote ourselves and the institution”, she said.

Danira Karović from the Association of Citizens Why not? from BiH, believes that in BiH it is noticeable that the higher the level of the institution, the greater the percentage of transparency.

She believes that the problems of institution openness are similar in all countries.

Vujo Ilic from the organization CRTA from Serbia believes that political will and legal solutions that will not depend on political will in the future, are necessary. In the continuation of the conference, the implementation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative in Montenegro and the region was discussed.

Transparency in Decision-making Processes in the WB


This paper “Transparency in Decision-making Processes in the Western Balkans” presents  the results of an inquiry into transparency of public decision-making in four Western Balkans countries – Serbia, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It was inspired by a similar study conducted by Access Info Europe and partners during 2017, which found “an appalling lack of transparency of decision making across Europe, which prevents members of the public from following and participating in decision-making processes, as well as from holding public officials to account for their exercise of power”.

The judiciary is not yet fully open

According to this year’s research, the courts in Montenegro meet on average 56.5%, while prosecutor’s offices meet 65% of the openness indicators, These are the best results in the region, evidencing the low level of openness of the courts and prosecutor’s offices in the region.

In cooperation with partners from a regional network of NGOs “Action SEE“, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) prepared the policy paper in which we analyze a level of transparency, openness and accountability of the judiciary in the Western Balkans region.

The Strategy for the Reform of the Judiciary 2014-2018 recognizes the need to strengthen citizens’ trust in the judiciary through access to information held by judicial institutions, but our research has confirmed that there is still a significant space for enhancing the openness of judicial institutions

Although this year’s result of the openness of judicial institutions in Montenegro needs to be seen in the context of introducing new and more strict indicators, the fact is that these institutions have not worked enough to develop the openness policy during the last year.

Courts publish most of the administrative information such as scope of work, regulations, trial schedules, lists of civil servants and employees with their titles…

However, the websites of most courts are not being updated with press releases or current events. Moreover, publishing information on earnings is also not a practice.

Courts should improve the mechanisms for communicating with the public. Our last year’s findings pointed to the need for improvement of courts’ communication policy with the media and the public, through the training for spokesman and development of a Communication Strategy. Although there is a person or public relations service in most courts, a large number of courts have no practice of publishing press releases, which would make the public aware of the news. Also other methods of communication are not being actively used.

Courts should also improve their capacities to apply the Law on Free Access to Information. More than half of courts (55%) who provided the answers to the questionnaires informed us that they had not participated in any of the free access to information trainings in the previous period.

It should also be added that 23% of courts do not have published updated Guidelines on their websites, and 92% do not publish a database with information granted access upon request.

On the websites of 31% of courts there is no published Code of Ethics of Judges. There is no information on filed complaints in court work reports, as well as violations of the Code of Ethics of Judges or disciplinary responsibility of judges.

As indicated last year, the prosecutor’s office website, although it contains a lot of data, is technically inadequate – there is no functional search, it is not transparent for use and is limited for further improvement of content. Therefore, the last year’s recommendation for creation of a new website

which would be adjusted to the number of institutions and the amount of information remains unchanged.

When it comes to transparency of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, key recommendations for improvement of the situation in the previous measurement remain unchanged. These councils should improve their financial transparency.

This research is done through Regional Openness Index which measures the degree to which the institutions of the Western Balkans are open to citizens and society, based on the following four principles: transparency, accessibility, integrity and effectiveness.

State Election Commission in Montenegro – a failed experiment


Since the introduction of the multi-party system in Montenegro, an efficient model of election administration work is being sought. All previous attempts have one common denominator: no “electoral authority” has emerged, which, by the authority of a strong institution, defends democratic principles and increases citizen trust in the electoral process. Continue reading State Election Commission in Montenegro – a failed experiment

Capacity building training held in Bijelo Polje

CDT organized capacity building training in Bijelo Polje, on 25th and 26th July 2018.

Trainings aimed to support organizations in achieving the greatest possible programme impact through strengthening their capacities and skills for developing, implementing and maintaining all relevant project and financial management aspects. Therefore, the training covered the topics of project management, good governance, promoting projects, policy advocacy etc.

Participants were very satisfied with the training, asking trainers for many advices and suggestions.

Trainers gave them training materials and remained open to any additional questions and explanations.

“I am very satisfied with the training and want to underline that in the situation of different challenges that one NGO could face of, sharing experience, lessons learnt and advices represent great benefit”, one of the participant said.

“My NGO doesn’t have so big work experience and this training offered me an excellent starting point for new improvements and developments”, another participant claimed.

The Parliament must improve its transparency

The Parliament of Montenegro din not increase the transparency of the work of the working bodies, as it is not possible to have their direct transmission or lists of votes of individual MPs at working bodies’ sessions.

This is stated in the analysis of the openness of parliaments’ work in the region by the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) in cooperation with partners from the ActionSEE Regional Network.

The Parliament of Montenegro, for the fourth consecutive year, is the most open in the region. It currently complies with 81% of the openness indicators.

Research shows that the Parliament publishes basic data on its work, but budgetary transparency has not been improved.

There has been no progress either in direct communication with citizens.

Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Parliament still do not exist, there are no possibilities for citizens to directly draw attention of their elected representatives to the negative phenomena in society and demand a quick response from them.

MPs must have intensive contact with the citizens and listen to their needs, rather than point them to slow and complicated procedures. The only thing left are quite backward procedures for the citizens having to raise 6000 signatures if they want to draw the attention of the people they have chosen.

The legislative activity of the Parliament has not been improved by increasing the capacity to assess the possible impact of legal solutions during their preparation.

It is also necessary to promote the publication of the budget and the final account on the website. Moreover, the budget documents were not published in open data format. The Parliament did not prepare the so-called Citizens’ budget, which aims to present the citizens with its revenues and expenditures in a simple and understandable way.

No Strategy for Development of the Parliament of Montenegro has been adopted.

There was no word about the need to change and improve the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, which would review the procedures that in practice create confusion and problems, but also often obscure and controversial way of functioning of the Collegium of the President of the Parliament.

Instead of the anticipated progress in the sphere of openness, parliaments in the region have achieved a weaker performance compared to the previous period of the research. Thus, openness in 2017, on average, is 61% of the indicators met. This result is less than 2% in relation to the openness in 2016, when it was 63%.

The openness of local governments – a problem in the region and Montenegro

Openness of local self-governments in Montenegro is still at a very low level. On average, they meet only 48% of the openness criteria, which is a weaker performance compared to the last year

Closedness of local self-governments is recorded in several fields: from the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information, through displaying how the institutions spend citizens’ money, to the use of obsolete means of communication.

That is the result of the research which Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) conducted in cooperation with partners from a regional network of NGOs “Action SEE“.

The aim of the overall research is to provide a detailed overview of the situation in these areas, and to contribute to implementation of the public administration reform, to have the effect on strengthening the principles of good governance and to help the institutions implement them more effectively in their work.

In our sample, the best-ranked municipality was Tivat, which meets 63% of the openness criteria. The lowest ranked municipality was Šavnik, which meets half the less openness criteria – 31%.

Results show that on the websites of half of the municipalities, not all plans and programs of local assemblies for the last three years have been published, 36% of municipalities covered by the sample do not publish a list of civil servants and employees, and 72% of them did not even publish information on earnings of public officials.

More than half of municipalities (55%) have not published the updated Guidelines for free access to information. These shortcomings have not been remedied either by using of social networks through which municipalities could directly inform citizens and promote their activities.

It is necessary for local self-governments to urgently change this practice and to start informing citizens more actively about all the actions and results of their work and manners of functioning, but also to take advantage of all the opportunities for greater involvement of citizens in the decision-making process.

CDT presented a set of recommendations for improvement, based on Regional Openness Index:

* Improve arrangement and organization of local self-government websites

* Ensure publicity of the decision-making process in municipalities

* Provide unrestricted access to information of public importance

* Enhance communication with citizens and ensure efficient functioning of the service for citizens

When it comes to openness of local self-government in the region, it is noted that the lack of a strategic approach to openness is a common problem of most municipalities in the region.

Local self-governments in the region meet on average 31.5% of the openness criteria, which is a weaker result compared to the previous measurement. The weaker result was achieved in all the countries of the region with the exception of Albania.

Local self-government in Albania meets on average 27.55% of the indicators. Although such a level of openness is unsatisfactory, it represents an improvement compared to the last year, when it met on average 12.12%.

The research shows that local self-governments in the region are not sufficiently dedicated to informing citizens so that they can adequately participate in discussions about problems of local interest.