The division of powers in the jurisdiction of various South-East European constitutional courts

Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger (left), former Judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court; Dragoljub Drašković (eighth from left), President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro; Zoran Pažin (centre), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of  Montenegro; Zlatko Knežević (to his right), President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger (left), former Judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court; Dragoljub Drašković (eighth from left), President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro; Zoran Pažin (centre), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro; Zlatko Knežević (to his right), President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Montenegro

From 5 to 7 June 2019, a regional conference on the “Division of powers and balance between powers” was held in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. This conference was organised jointly by the Constitutional Court of Montenegro and the IRZ and was funded by the German Foreign Office. Representatives of the Constitutional Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia and Serbia attended the conference.

The significance of the conference was underlined by the fact that, following the opening of the conference by the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Montenegro, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, also gave a welcome speech.

This was followed by the following speeches on jurisdiction by the participating constitutional courts:

  • The relationship between the Parliament and the Constitutional Court of Montenegro in the implementation and protection of the constitutionality of the law (Hamdija Šarkinović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Montenegro)
  • The division of powers and balance between powers – the independence of constitutional courts with a particular focus on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zlatko Knezevic, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) 
  • The role of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia in the implementation of the division of powers (Sali Murati, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia) 
  • Constitutional legislature and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia: a relationship based on cooperation and mutual control (Dr. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia)
  • The normative and actual prerequisites for the independence of the constitutional court – the experience of the Republic of Serbia (Dr. Nataša Plavšić, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia)

During this part of the conference, the participants already took the opportunity to join the discussions and ask critical questions.

Afterwards, Professor Dr. Michael Eichberger, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court, presented the role of the basic principle of the division of powers in German law in general and various decisions made by the German Constitutional Court in this regard. 

The discussions following this speech and the general discussions during the plenary session addressed a wide range of topics. The main focus was on the relationship between the constitutional court and the legislator, in particular on the practice of constitutional courts in the event of unconstitutional laws. The participants also discussed the position of the constitutional court in the structural organisation of the state. 

As well as working together in a plenary session, the conference also allowed the judges from the participating constitutional courts to make full use of the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences and to take part in bilateral talks.

Lecture in Podgorica on training law professionals in Germany

Dr. Stefan Pürner, Head of Section at the IRZ, during his lecture. On his left: Prof. Dr. Maja Kostić Mandić and Dr. Branislav Radulović, President of the Montenegrin Lawyer’s Association
Dr. Stefan Pürner, Head of Section at the IRZ, during his lecture. On his left: Prof. Dr. Maja Kostić Mandić and Dr. Branislav Radulović, President of the Montenegrin Lawyer’s Association
Montenegro

On 26 March 2019, IRZ Head of Section Dr. Stefan Pürner gave a lecture in the local language on law training in Germany at a joint event held by the Faculty of Law at the University of Montenegro in Podgorica, the Montenegrin Lawyer’s Association and the IRZ. Due to the current discussions on modifying or even abolishing the Bologna process in Montenegro, which has also been introduced for law studies in the country, this lecture was met with a great deal of interest by the media. Newspapers reported on the event and it was also broadcast in full on the state television network RTV CG.

Conference on party funding held in Podgorica

During the first panel discussion: Dr. Tilman Hoppe (2nd from left), anti-corruption expert at the German Bundestag, and Dr. Heike Merten (2nd from right), IRZ expert
During the first panel discussion: Dr. Tilman Hoppe (2nd from left), anti-corruption expert at the German Bundestag, and Dr. Heike Merten (2nd from right), IRZ expert
Montenegro

On 27 March 2019, a conference on the “Funding of political parties and elections: challenges and solutions” was held in Podgorica. The event was organised jointly by the non-governmental organisation MANS, which acts as a network supporting civil society in Montenegro, the EU Delegation in Montenegro, the British Embassy and the IRZ. The conference was opened by the Head of the EU Delegation, Aivo Orav, UK Ambassador Alison Kemp and Vanja Ćalović Marković from MANS. This was followed by three panel discussions and subsequent talks:

  • During the first panel, international experts in party law and party funding started by making short statements and went on to answer questions from the moderator and the audience.
  • In the second panel, politicians from various parties represented in the Montenegrin Parliament commented on the current situation in the country with regard to party funding.
  • In the third panel, representatives of non-governmental organisations from Armenia, Latvia, Montenegro and Russia described party funding in their own countries, which they unanimously criticised.

The experts involved in the first panel discussion also included two Germans. As well as Dr. Magnus Ohmann from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Dr. Yukihido Hamda from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), other speakers included the Managing Director of the Institute for German and International Party Law and Party Research at the University of Düsseldorf, Dr. Heike Merten, who spoke as an IRZ expert, and Dr. Tilman Hoppe, an expert on anti-corruption at the German Bundestag. The latter had worked out some recommendations for changes and amendments to the Montenegrin party law, which were made available to participants in the conference. The MANS NGO also presented its study on the situation of party funding in Montenegro, which concludes that there is a considerable need for improvement in this area.

Attending the conference were a large number of media representatives, representatives from foreign embassies in Montenegro, parliamentarians and other interested parties.