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At the end of 2017, the latest editions of two journals for Southeast Europe, co-published by the IRZ, came out. The journal "Nova pravna revija - časopis za domaće, njemačko i evropsko pravo" (New Legal Review - a journal of regional, German and European law; NPR for short) is distributed in all succession states of former Yugoslavia. Also, a new edition of the Macedonian journal for European Law, "Evropsko Pravo" (EP), was published.
The two journals cover a wide range of topics. The latest NPR edition deals with questions ranging from family and land register law and the CISG case law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to information about recent developments of European and German laws.
The intensive cooperation between the Institute for Eastern European Law and the IRZ on Southeast Europe is furthermore continued with a publication of the translation of a comparative law paper on the legislative procedure in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.
The paper was first published in the Jahrbuch für Ostrecht (Yearbook for Eastern European Law).
The new edition of the Macedonian journal on European law "EP" contains no less than seven papers by Macedonian authors covering the following issues, amongst others:
the conflicting fields of human rights and the fight against terrorism,
the freedom of expression according to the European Convention on Human Rights,
the European Central Bank and the issue of a democratic deficit and
legal multilingualism in the European Union.
Two comparative papers compare on the one hand the Macedonian value added tax with the European model of the net all-phase VAT system with pre-tax deduction, and on the other hand the legal provisions on the management and supervisory boards of public companies.
The edition furthermore contains a detailed report about the symposium on the "Legal transformation in Southeast Europe using former Yugoslavia as an example: prerequisites, parties involved, failures and successes - a preliminary review", which the IRZ organised at the end of 2017 in cooperation with the Southeast Europe Association (SOG).
The two journals are also spread via their own websites:
From 5 to 7 October 2017, a regional conference organised jointly by the local constitutional court and the IRZ on the “Theory and practice of the independence of constitutional courts” was held in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. As well as constitutional court judges from Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina, constitutional court representatives from the following countries also took part in the conference: Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. The Constitutional Court of Serbia was represented by its President, Vesna Ilić Prelić, amongst others, and the President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković, was also present.
After the opening of the event by the President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirsad Ćeman, and the IRZ, the German Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christiane Hohmann, also welcomed the participants. She stressed the importance of the independence and neutrality of constitutional courts and all other courts.
The three-day event was characterised by an intense exchange of ideas and lively discussions, which were inspired by keynote speeches and reports on the practical experiences of representatives from the participating constitutional courts, as well as by a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, Professor Dr. Udo Steiner, and the former President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, Winfried Schubert.
The focus of the discussions was on the practical implementation of the basic principle of the independence of constitutional courts. The constitutional courts of the south-east European states named above believe their independence is compromised above all by the media. They complained that the media indiscriminately gives politics room to influence public opinion with regard to the pending decisions of the constitutional court in their own interests. In this context, the German speakers explained the basic principle of the loyalty of constitutional bodies, which was met with great interest.
The particular importance of constitutional courts carrying out active and transparent media work was also pointed out. This helps courts to gain respect amongst the general public, which then results in greater independence. However, it was also noted that a constitutional court can only be convincing if judgements are well-justified, whereby the pressure to provide justification is the downside of judicial independence.
The unanimous conclusion of the regional conference was that the legal framework for the independence of constitutional courts is by and large adequate. All the same, some of the participating constitutional courts complained that they were short of staff and financial means.
As has become standard practice for this series of regional conferences, which was started by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003, the speeches are also published in the court’s publications so that they can be made available to the professional public. The following constitutional courts in the region also reported on the conference on their websites:
From 8 to 10 September, the third regional “Introduction to German law in the local language” block seminar was held at the Faculty of Law in the industrial Bosnian city of Zenica for students from Kragujevac (Serbia), Skopje (Macedonia) and Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The speakers at the event were Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meškić, Zenica, Prof Dr. Slavko Djordjević, Kragujevac, Doz. Dr. Aleksandar Spasov, Skopje, and Dr. Stefan Pürner from the IRZ. The Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Enes Bikić, gave the welcoming speech. The IRZ has been working closely with all three of the participating Southeast European faculties and lecturers for many years.
The topics of the seminar were:
Legal training in Germany
The particularities of the German Civil Code (BGB)
The influence of European law on national law
National Socialist injustice and the process for dealing with this
When discussing the last topic, the participants and speakers also talked about the fact that there has been a significant failure to address the authoritarian systems in the former regions of Yugoslavia and about the conflicts resulting from the collapse of Yugoslavia. What is particularly encouraging is that, despite the multi-ethnic composition of the seminar, these discussions took place objectively and with mutual respect, which is sadly not always the case in this region.
The event therefore not only made a contribution towards reinforcing the role played by German law in guiding legal transformation, but also contributed towards the normalisation of expert discussions. The seminar represented a great opportunity for the young legal talent in the region to make and maintain contacts.