Montenegro and the Council of Europe
Montenegro became a full member of the Council of Europe on 11 May 2007 at the official ceremony in the headquarters of the CoE in Strasbourg, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Milan Roćen signed the CoE Statute and the Convention on avoiding statelessness. Based on the statement on undertaking obligations, Montenegro was (including a certain number of previously undertaken membership-related obligations) also recognised the status of a successor to 49 conventions and protocols of the CoE, while 9 conventions and protocols were determined to be ratified in the Parliament of Montenegro.
After being admitted to this Organisation, Montenegro appointed the Chargé d'Affaires within the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, whilst on 12 December 2007 it upgraded its presentation to the level of an ambassador.
Permanent Mission of Montenegro to the CoE in Strasbourg, with ambassador Zoran Jankovic as the head of Mission is main link, together with the Office of the Council of Europe in Podgorica (expected to be closed by the end of 2010), between Montenegro and the Council of Europe.
The CoE in Montenegro has been very active in numerous areas such as: reform of judiciary, public administration, police, correctional-penitentiary institutions, reform of education and media, as well as fight against organized crime and trafficking in human beings.
The membership of Montenegro in the CoE assumes the allocation of annual contributions to the budget of this Organisation. The total contribution also includes the membership of Montenegro to the partial agreement of the Development Bank of the CoE. Montenegro was admitted to the membership of the Development Bank of the CoE on 19 November 2007. Following the membership, representatives were appointed in the Management Board (ambassador Z. Janković) and Administrative Board of the Development Bank of the CoE (M. Katnić, Assistant Minister of Finance). The process of appointing the representatives of entitled ministries of Montenegro, in numerous CoE committees is in process, the national procedure for election of the judge to the European Court of Human Rights (Nebojša Vučinić, PhD, Professor) and on January 15th 2009 for State agent who is to represent Montenegro in this Institution is elected Zoran Pažin.
On June session of the Parliamentary Assembly held 2007 in Strasbourg, the mandates of three representatives of Montenegrin Parliament were verified - delegation members of the Parliament of Montenegro to PACE are: Predrag Sekulic(DPS), the head of delegation, Džavid Šabović (SDP) and Neven Gošović (SNP) and the secretary of the Delegation of the Parliament of Montenegro who also attends the PACE sessions is Nađa Vukićević and three deputies: Valentina Šćepanović-Radulović (DPS), Ervin Spahić (SDP) and Obrad Gojković (SNP), whereby their mandate in the PACE officially commenced. In accordance with recommendations of the Council of Europe, the representatives of Montenegrin Parliament filled their seats in nine boards of the PACE.
At the meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee, in which Montenegro has no representatives, Jean-Charles Gardetto (Monaco) and Serhiy Holovaty (Ukraine), who were previously engaged in monitoring the fulfilment of conditions for admission of Montenegro in the CoE, were elected as reporters to monitor the realisation of fulfilment of obligations of Montenegro to the CoE on behalf of the PACE.
The procedure was completed for election of the Montenegrin member in the European Committee for prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT). Furthermore, the procedure was initiated for proposing candidates of Montenegro in ECRI, and all the members of the delegation of Montenegro in GRECO were appointed (Vesna Ratković, Ana Nikolić, Marija Novaković, Duško Karadžić and Luka Gogić).
The Ministry for Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro has produced and provided in the name of the Government of Montenegro the Report on implementation of the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities, as well as the Report on Implementation of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages to relevant CoE bodies. Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe issued a statement on a Montenegrin Report on enforcement of The Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities in February 2008.
The regional project CARDS has been realised for strengthening police capacities for fight against organised crime and for the purpose of further improvement and strengthening of judiciary in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and a three-year CARDS programme for reform of judiciary was initiated. In this regard, it is also significant to mention PACO Impact project which goal is to provide assistance to countries beneficiaries in implementation of plans and strategies for fight against corruption.
In the process of producing and adopting the Constitution, Montenegro had close cooperation with experts of Venice Commission, whose proposals were mostly incorporated in the new Montenegrin Constitution. Montenegro has been a full member of the Venice Commission since 6 June 2006, and Srđan Darmanović, PhD, Professor, is the representative of Montenegro in this CoE body.
Montenegro has recently joined the partial agreement - agency »North-South Centre« (on March 2008) in the key year of functioning of that body of the CoE, whereby political support was provided to further promotion of intercultural dialogue and inter-national harmony as fundamental values inherent to Montenegro.
The Government of Montenegro adopted the Action Plan for Co-operation with the Council of Europe on the session of 17 January 2008, therewith the commitment was confirmed and readiness expressed to undertake active steps for the implementation of obligations arising from the CoE membership.
The Action Plan reflects coherent approach in terms of cooperation with the CoE and defines activities of responsible departments and institutions of the Government of Montenegro for the coming three-year period (2008-2010). The purpose of the Action Plan is to serve as a practical tool, a framework plan for parties responsible for the activities in order to provide them with support in development and preparation of adequate measures and instruments having key priorities of the cooperation with the CoE in their focus.
The Action Plan covers a wide spectrum of activities in the domain of the cooperation of Montenegro with the CoE, especially in the area of judiciary, police reform, and various programmes in other fields. Fundamental principles, action guidelines, implementation and mechanisms for monitoring and phased process of implementation are the key elements of the Action Plan.
Action guidelines include key objectives and specific activities which must be applied by authorized ministries of the Government of Montenegro within: 1. Post-accession Co-operation Programme; 2. Ratification and Implementation of the CoE conventions and protocols; 3. Expert and supervisory committees arising from certain conventions of the CoE; 4. Financial obligations of Montenegro arising from the CoE membership; 5. Other forms of cooperation of Montenegro with the CoE.