Cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and the civil sector is constantly being promoted and strengthened, which is especially confirmed by the increased participation of representatives of the civil sector at the meetings of the working bodies, especially with regard to the consultative hearings, and an important role of the subjects of civil society in contribution and strengthening of regional cooperation in social and political issues is emphasised.
It is important to emphasise that on 30th March 2011 a Memorandum on Cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and Network of Civil Society Organization for Democracy and Human Rights was signed. Simultaneously with the signing of the Memorandum, at the website of the Parliament a form was uploaded, which can be filled out by the representatives of the civil sector, including individuals, and in such a manner they can submit their opinions, proposals and suggestions to the Parliament, which are later forwarded to a working body of the organisational unit to which the content of the filled out form refers. What is also important is that the principles of cooperation between the Parliament and other interested NGOs are defined in the Memorandum. Civil society organisations may also address directly to the working bodies.
International organisations of civil society and civil society organisations in Montenegro, with which the Parliament of Montenegro has a developed cooperation:
- Westminster Foundation for Democracy
- ERSTE Foundation
- Friedrich Ebert Foundation
- Konrad Adenauer Foundation
- Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT)
- Forum MNE
- Network for Affirmation of the Non-governmental Sector (MANS)
- European Movement in Montenegro
- Centre for Children’s Rights of Montenegro
- “Our Initiative”
- Institute Alternativa
- Civic Alliance
Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) begun by signing the Memorandum of Cooperation in May 2010, which has been renewed in November 2011. The cooperation has been developing intensively in 2012 as well. Furthermore, the implementation of the project “Parliamentary Strengthening Programme Montenegro” has started in 2011, when, following the successful implementation of the previous programme, the cooperation was renewed by signing a new Memorandum, with the British Council as the third signatory. The programme was aimed at strengthening the capacities of the Parliament within the four components: human resources management, internal and external communication, financial and legislative oversight, and the rule of law. Within the said components, trainings, seminars and study visits were organised, which enabled the MPs and employees of the Parliament to, among other things, become acquainted with the long-standing parliamentary practice of the United Kingdom.
Additionally, within this programme, a seminar had been organised on the topic “Role of the Parliament in ensuring the rule of law”, which was attended by the members of the Constitutional Issues and Legislative Committee; Committee on Political System, Judiciary and Administration; Committee on International Relations and European Integration, and Security and Defence Committee. The participants of the seminar dealt with issues of the rule of law, independence of judiciary, combating organised crime and corruption, and they also spoke on the institutional position of the Ombudsman for human rights, Anti-Corruption Agency, and preparations for specific activities that the Parliament of Montenegro would be facing in the course of negotiations.
Furthermore, within the joint cooperation programme, representatives of the Parliamentary Service from the Secretary General’s Office; Department for Public Relations, International Affairs and Protocol; IT Section, and Human Resources Management Bureau paid a study visit to the United Kingdom Parliament and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Within the visit to the Parliament, they shared good practice examples and considered challenges in the field of internal and external communication, and the employees of the Parliament of Montenegro were informed on the activities that the British Parliament conducts in order to inform the wide public on the role of the Parliament, its functions and its significance.
Apart from that, with the support of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Second International Conference “Strengthening the Role of Parliaments and Governments in Promoting Competitiveness and Economic Growth in the Western Balkans Countries” was held in Miločer. The Conference represented the meeting of the Regional Network of parliamentary committees on economy and finance of the Western Balkans countries. In the focus of the Conference were the results of the regional study - Strengthening the role of parliaments and governments in promoting competitiveness and economic growth, consideration of opportunities for expansion of operations of the committees on economy and finance in direction of strengthening their role in the process, harmonisation of programme contents with all the parliaments of the Western Balkans which are the network members, including the aims that should be achieved by 2015, and the steps necessary to achieve those aims, regulatory reform, institutional capacities for its implementation, implementation of the Regulation Impact Analysis (RIA) in developing new regulations, transparency and public debate in the legislative process, as well as simplification and reduction of administrative burdens.
The British Council, which became the third signatory of the new 2011 Memorandum of Cooperation, implemented the intensive four-day training sessions for representatives of the Parliamentary Service during 2012, on the topic “Presentation Skills”, and then “EU Working Group Meetings”. Simultaneously, a day training session and a three-day training session were organised for future trainers in the fields of formal correspondence and presentation skills.
The Parliament of Montenegro, with financial support by the ERSTE Foundation and professional implementation of the NGO Forum MNE, is implementing the “Democracy Workshops” project, which is aimed at informing the children and youth in Montenegro, ages 8 to 15, via interactive workshops, on essential characteristics of democracy and parliamentary system. The aim of the “Democracy Workshops” project is to encourage interest in youth regarding politics and democratic processes, and it was envisaged as a civic education programme for students of the elementary schools, which teaches them about parliamentary democracy, functioning of the parliament, adoption and implementation of laws, as well as the role of media in a pluralist society. The children incorporate the acquired knowledge and experiences into a newspaper, radio or movie feature, which is later published on children’s parliamentary website. The “Democracy Workshops” project is being implemented in the Parliament of the Republic of Austria since 2007, and over 10,000 children per year participate in these workshops. The topics covered include fields such as politics, media, workshops with the MPs, “a journey through time” and “Europe”, and fifteen specially trained trainers work with children. Within preparations for this project, two test workshops had been organised in the elementary school “Sutjeska” in May 2012. The pilot project had been launched on 8th October 2012, and lasted approximately for 30 days, after which the implementation of the project began. In December 2012 the participants were awarded the certificates. Officially, the project was launched on 22nd January 2013.
Friedrich Ebert Foundation
Organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, multiple conferences had been held, as well as two meetings of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Central European Initiative, the first one being held in April 2010 in Cetinje, on the topic “The Parliament’s Role in Combating Corruption and Organised Crime“, and the second one in Bečići, on November of the same year, held in two theme sessions: “Cross-Border Cooperation among CEI Countries”, and “Parliamentary Cooperation with the Civil Sector”.
Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Government of Montenegro, European Movement in Montenegro, and Friedrich Ebert Foundation in cooperation with the Committee on International Relations and European Integration, a presentation was held on 24 January 2012 for MPs and employees of the Parliament on the topic “Negotiation of the Republic of Croatia with the European Union – structure, content experiences and promotion of the role of parliamentary structures”. Mr Vladimir Drobnjak, Chief Negotiator of the Republic of Croatia for the EU Accession spoke at the presentation. Mr Drobnjak also answered numerous questions by the MPs regarding the experience of the Republic of Croatia in the negotiation process, recently held referendum on the membership of the Republic of Croatia to the EU, the media, election of the chief negotiator and other questions regarding the European path of the Republic of Croatia and Montenegro.
Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS)
Freedom, justice and solidarity are the leading work principles of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). KAS is a political foundation, close to the Christian-Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). As a co-founder of CDU and the first German Chancellor, Mr Konrad Adauer (1876-1967) connected the Christian-democratic, conservative, and liberal theory. His name is a symbol of democratic renewal of Germany, foreign policy orientation in the transatlantic system of values, a symbol of vision of European uniting and orientation to the social market economy. His spiritual legacy is simultaneously a task and an obligation of the Foundation. In its partnership relation, KAS cooperates with the state institutions, but also helps democratic development of political parties, civil society organisations, as well as with select elite via support in education and specialisation of political youth. “Democracy needs democrats” is a leading principle in the field of political education. Joint activities of the Parliament of Montenegro and Konrad Adenauer Foundation begun in 2003 through organisation of round tables, seminars, study visits, counselling and visits by foreign experts.
On 2 and 3 February 2012, in cooperation with KAS and the NGO “Green Home”, the Thirteenth Cetinje Parliamentary Forum was held on the topic “Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development”.
Furthermore, the representatives of the Parliamentary Service and expert associates in MPs Groups paid a study visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, organised by KAS. The participants in the study visit had the chance to tour the Bundestag and get acquainted with its competencies and its manner of operations, as well as with the parliamentary infrastructure and procedures necessary for achieving full operational effectiveness. On that occasion they also visited the Parliament of the Brandenburg region, where they got acquainted with the operations and characteristics of this institution; Montenegrin Embassy in Germany, where they were received by the Ambassador Mr Vladimir Radulović; and the headquarters of KAS in Berlin.
The Committee for International Relations and European Integration and KAS continued their cooperation by organising a grandstand on the topic “Montenegro and EU – the role and tasks of the parliament in the process of European integration”, with the aim to contribute, through sharing of experiences, to a better understanding of the decision making process of the Federal Parliament of Germany promotion of bilateral relations of the two parliaments, and institutional strengthening of the Parliament of Montenegro. Mr Hans-Joachim Falenski, a long-time foreign and security policy and European affairs adviser of the CDU/CSU ruling party coalition’s parliamentary group in the Federal Parliament of Germany, presented to the MPs and employees of the Parliament of Montenegro German experiences and positions regarding the enlargement issue and new criteria for the EU membership, bilateral relations with the Western Balkans countries and the EU member states, as well as competencies of the German Parliament in division of powers. During his speech, Mr Falenski also mentioned the regional situation, expectations of Germany in relation to the reform dynamics in the countries in the region, as well as the process of Atlantic integration of Montenegro and the advantages that come with the NATO Alliance membership.
Long-time cooperation with the NGO “Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT), achieved in various forms, was continued in 2012 within the programme Open Parliament, through publishing of a monthly bulletin with the same name and implementation of the Internship Programme. The publishing of the monthly bulletin began in January 2011, with financial support by the European Commission, via EU Delegation to Montenegro. As of the March 2012 issue No. 14, the Service of the Parliament of Montenegro has completely overtaken the editing, translating, layout and publishing of the bulletin. The bulletin is published on the website of the Parliament of Montenegro in Montenegrin and English language and sent via e-mail to a large number of local and international addresses, including the addresses of foreign embassies in Montenegro and MPs of the European Parliament.
Cooperation with the NGO “Forum Youth and Informal Education” (Forum MNE), which has been carrying out youth education in Montenegro for years, begun with providing professional and technical support in implementing the project “Democracy Workshops”, which is being implemented by the Parliament of Montenegro within the programme “Open Parliament”, aimed at strengthening relations between the Parliament and youth, especially students of primary schools. More information on the project can be found in the part dedicated to Democracy Workshops.
Cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and NGO “Network for Affirmation of Nongovernmental Sector” (MANS) dates from February 2007, when MANS started to publish periodic reports on transparency and activities of the Parliament of Montenegro, containing information on the work of MPs and MP groups at the parliamentary committees and plenary sittings. In addition to monitoring of the Parliament, MANS regularly participates at the work of the parliamentary working bodies. On 23 March 2012, MANS organised, in co-operation with the Embassy of Great Britain, the Roundtable with the topic: “Fight against Corruption and role of the Law on Free Access to Information”, where MPs of the Parliament of Montenegro and representative of the Parliamentary Service also took part. On that occasion, two discussions were held, on topics “Existing and New Law on Free Access to Information as a Tool of Fight against Corruption” and “Fight against Corruption in Montenegro and Region - the Role of Nongovernmental Organisations”, where participants had an opportunity to exchange opinions and experiences and present actual proposals, objections and suggestions regarding the regulations of the Draft Law on Free Access to Information”.
“CHILD RIGHTS CENTRE OF MONTENEGRO“
Child Rights Centre of Montenegro is nongovernmental, non-party organisation, founded in Podgorica, in April 2000. Mission of the Child Rights Centre of Montenegro is improving of life quality of children and youth living in the territory of Montenegro, through promotion and programmes of children’s right protection. The Child Rights Centre implements its activities respecting four basic principles: right to life, existence and development, non-discrimination, inclusion and best interest of children. The Child Rights Centre seeks to contribute the rights of children to be respected consistently and also to be basis for the work of professionals, guiding principle for parents and guardians and every childto be aware of them. Child Rights Centre strives to gather and establish contacts with a great number of institutions and nongovernmental organisations dealing with children, with aim of recognising problems not treated institutionally, for the purpose of providing adequate help to children and young, through promotion and actual programmes of child rights protection.
The Parliament of Montenegro has been cooperating with the Child Rights Centre of Montenegro and Children Parliaments for the fourth year in a row. On 20 November 2012, Fourth Session of the Children Parliament was held, on the occasion of adoption United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 42 students from 21 municipalities attended the session as well as representatives of local Children Parliaments from Bar, Cetinje, Bijelo Polje and Podgorica and children parliaments from elementary schools in 17 Montenegrin towns. During the session, children posed 42 questions, answered by the President, MPs and Secretary General of the Parliament of Montenegro, members of the Government, majors, representatives of international organisations and others. The sessions are organised from 20 November 2009. The Fourth Session of the Children Parliament, organised by the Parliament of Montenegro in cooperation with the Child Rights Centre, with the support of the UNICEF Office to Montenegro and Save the Children, was dedicated to affirmation of the children rights in respect of participating and advocating as important for social needs and values.
Federation of Associations of Parents of Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities, founded seven years ago, is voluntary, social and humanitarian, nongovernmental, non-profit and non-party organisation. It is composed of 15 municipal associations with tendency of networking across the whole territory of Montenegro.
Federation of Associations of Parents of Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities “Our Initiative” established cooperation with Parliament working bodies at the beginning of 2010. Members of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms, Committee on Education, Science, Culture and Sports and Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget at the meetings with representatives of the Federation of Association voiced willingness to consider every initiative and objection at proposals for laws relating the rights and position of children with developmental difficulties and status of their parents. The aim of cooperation between the Parliament of Montenegro and “Our Initiative” is addressing the problems of children and youth with developmental difficulties and improvement of their position in the society. It is primarily related to more comprehensive right to rehabilitation and health care, quality schooling, employment of those children and improvement of their parents’ status. Representatives of the Association asked to attend meetings of parliamentary committees on the occasion of considering their initiatives. Members of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms held a meeting with the representatives of Association in March 2012.
Institute Alternative (IA) is a nongovernmental organisation, established in September 2007 by a group of citizens with experience in civil society, public administration and business sector. Strategic objectives of the Institute are to increase the quality of work, accountability and transparency, efficiency of public institutions and public officials; to encourage open, public, constructive and well-argument discussions on public policies; strengthening the capacity of the state and society for the development of public policies.
It functions as a think tank or a research centre, focusing on the overarching areas of good governance, transparency and accountability. Its research and advocacy activities are structured within five main programme strands: i) public administration, ii) accountable public finance, iii) security and defence, iv) parliamentary programme and v) social policy. Its flagship project is the Public Policy School, which has been organised since 2012.
Members of the Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget, as well as representative of the Parliamentary Service, participated in the Roundtable, with the topic “Development of the Public Internal Financial Control System (PIFC) – results achieved and challenges set before us”, held on 17 May 2012, organised by the Institute Alternative. During the roundtable, the participants discussed the previous results regarding the introduction of public and internal financial controls system (PIFC) on the basis of this NGO research report, which provides reference to the results achieved, changes and challenges in the PIFC development. In addition, this NGO presented research “Anti-corruption Committee: Cure or Placebo” at the conference held on 7 December, conducted with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The recommendations for the work of the Committee were given in the part relating accession to secret data, membership to the National Commission, expansion of competences, procedures for receiving and considering applications, criteria that each individual application has to fulfil so to be considered at the Committee meeting and the role in monitoring implementation and fulfilling criteria relating to chapters 23 and 24.
NGO “Civic Alliance”
Civic Alliance (CA) efficiently contributes to establishing civil and democratic society, through strengthening capacities and support to civil initiatives, protection and promotion of human rights and the control of work of public institutions. Within cooperation of the NGO Civic Alliance (CA) and the Parliament of Montenegro, the set of meetings between representatives of parliamentary committees and this NGO were held. Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms and representatives of the Parliamentary Service met with the attendees of the Democratic Management School, which has been implemented by the Civic Alliance (CA) together with the Council of Europe and OSCE Mission to Montenegro. The meeting was attended by 20 attendees of the Democratic Management School, who got acquainted with competences and activities of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms as well as activities from the previous periods and activities established by the Work Plan for 2012. This NGO continuously monitored meetings and work of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms
NGO “European Movement in Montenegro”
The Parliament successfully cooperates with the NGO “European Movement in Montenegro”. Within the project “Parliament for Europe” trainings for employees of the Parliamentary Service were organised, especially for trainees, on topics relating monitoring harmonisation national legislation with the EU acquis, by using experiences and practice of other candidate countries and European Union member states.
Project “National Convention on European Integration of Montenegro” is organised jointly by the European Movement in Montenegro, Slovakia Association for Foreign Policy, Parliament of Montenegro, Government of Montenegro, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovakia – SLOVAKAID. The aim of the project is establishing of permanent, coherent and stable framework for thematically structured debate forum between civil and public sector on topics from European integrations field. Within the project, three conferences of the National Convention on European Integration of Montenegro were held in the Parliament of Montenegro.
NGO “Centre for Democracy and Human Rights” (CEDEM)
Within the cooperation with the NGO “Centre for Democracy and Human Rights” (CEDEM), three meetings of representatives of the Security and Defence Committee, i.e. Parliamentary Service with the representative of this NGO, on 17, 21 and 22 February were held, for the purpose of better informing on the work of the Security and Defence Committee and with the aim of preparing the publication “Security Sector Reform in Montenegro – Parliamentary Oversight, Transparency and Gender Equality”, being the part of the project “Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society Organisations for Mapping and Monitoring Security Sector Reforms in the Western Balkans”, which has been organised jointly by this NGO and Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and consortium of seven regional societies.
On 5 July, CEDEM organised and Slovakia Agency for Developmental Help and Cooperation, Point Foundation and Balkan Civil Society Development Network financially supported presentation of publication “Strengthening independence and impartiality of judiciary”. Chairperson of the Committee on Political System, Judiciary and Administration participated in the gathering. Publication was drafted with the aim of considering the issue of judiciary independence and impartiality, in terms of international standards of human rights respect but also identifying some of the key challenges in implementation of judiciary reform and defining recommendations for its improvement.
Except from that, on 24 April, Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms met with consultant of the Foundation for Open Society, on the occasion of evaluation of CEDEM work, through its cooperation with the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms. The meeting was organised upon the initiative of this NGO, with the aim of conducting evaluation for assessment of quality and visibility of its activities, supported by Foundation for Open Society through institutional grant (Think Tank Fund) in the past three years. The evaluation was implemented with the aim of assessing the degree of relevance of CEDEM practical policies, successfulness of advocating changes of public policies and quality of communication and cooperation of the NVO with partnership organisations, policy makers and international subjects and media.