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On 9 December 2019, the XIII National Anti-Corruption Conference was held in Podgorica, initiated by the non-governmental organisation MANS, a network supporting the NGO sector. As in previous years, the event was organised by the IRZ together with the EU delegation in Montenegro, the British Embassy and Transparency International.
The conference was opened by:
Dr. Robert Weber, German Ambassador,
Aivo Orav, EU Ambassador,
Alison Kemp, British Ambassador,
Mevludin Nuhodžić, Minister of Internal Affairs, Montenegro, and
Aleksandar Drljević, Chief negotiator for Montenegro’s accession to the EU.
The high-ranking international and national guests present at the start of the conference reflected the importance of the event.
During the main part of the conference, the participants discussed the following topics in three different panels:
Political corruption: Key issues in Montenegro
International standards and expert recommendations
The exposure and prosecution of high-level corruption
The first panel discussions mainly involved members of parliament representatives and party representatives. Experts from the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and from the ODIHR, the OSCE human rights organisation, were among the speakers on the second panel. The subject for the third panel was discussed mainly by investigators from Montenegro, Italy and Germany. Those who took part in the discussions included Milivoje Katni, a specialist Public Prosecutor from Montenegro, Dejan Milovac, a criminal investigations specialist from MANS and the Editor-in-Chief of the TV news programme “Vijesti”, Tatjana Ašanin. German expert knowledge of the subject was presented by Björn Ziera, a Public Prosecutor from Hamburg, who has already represented the IRZ in Montenegro several times before.
The entire event was characterised by an interested audience and lively discussions on some quite controversial subjects. As in previous years, there was a great deal of media interest in the event. Radio and press coverage focussed in particular on the fact that the fight against corruption must go on regardless of the persons involved.
On 14 November 2019, the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christine Lambrecht, and the Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, signed the second work schedule for a Memorandum of Understanding between the two ministries in Berlin, which has been in place since 2014. The IRZ was represented at the event by its Managing Director, Dr. Frauke Bachler.
The main focus of this Memorandum is to support Montenegro in the expansion and development of its rule-of-law structures.
The new work schedule up to the end of 2021 includes measures on:
the fight against corruption,
judicial cooperation in criminal, civil and commercial cases,
gender equality and
law enforcement and notarial matters.
The IRZ will play a major role in the implementation of these measures. At the same time, they form one of the main pillars of the IRZ’s activity in Montenegro. The work of the IRZ in South-East Europe focusses in particular on Montenegro, since the country is currently preparing for future accession to the EU.Morocco
On 19 and 20 November 2019, a seminar on “Alternative dispute resolution in Germany, particularly mediation: legal foundations and practical application” was held in the capital Podgorica. The seminar was the first event organised jointly by the IRZ and the Montenegrin Centre for Mediation.
Once the event had been opened by the Director of the Centre for Mediation, Marina Lutovac, and IRZ Head of Section, Dr. Stefan Pürner, welcome speeches were given by German Ambassador Dr. Robert Weber and Ibrahim Smailović, Director of the Department of Civil Law at the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro. Both speakers stressed the importance of work on the rule of law for preparing Montenegro's accession to the EU and the important role played by the IRZ in this process.
Ibrahim Smailović and Marina Lutovac then went on to present the legal regulations and current situation regarding mediation in Montenegro, providing the initial foundations for very intense discussions to compare legal situations and a fruitful exchange of experiences.
These presentations made it clear that Montenegro is working intensively, in line with the relevant references from the EU country reports, to enhance the possibilities of alternative dispute resolution. The speakers reported on legislative initiatives, such as the reform of mediation law, and on organisational measures, such as the development of the current Centre for Mediation into a Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution in general and on training measures in this area.
A second basis for general discussion was provided by presentations on mediation and arbitration in Germany by the following IRZ experts:
Harald Walther, Director of the Local Court of Rüsselsheim and Mediator BM® Mediator,
Michael Haußner, former Secretary of State and Ombudsman for the German Savings Bank Association (Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband) and a former advisor to the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro, and
Winfried Schubert, a former President of the Constitutional Court of Saxony-Anhalt and Ombudsman for the German Savings Bank Association.
The presentations by the IRZ experts covered, amongst other things, the Mediation Act of 2012, the arbitration judge in courts, training for mediators and quality assurance in mediation. They also spoke about the work of arbitration bodies, in particular in the area of consumer protection.
Overall, the event not only dealt in-depth with various practical areas within the field of mediation, it also provided a comprehensive overview of various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
During the seminar, the participants also discussed related topics from the area of civil proceedings. Just as they had on a previous working visit by Montenegrin judges to Bavaria some time ago, the speakers once again stressed the importance of judicial support for consensual dispute resolution by the parties.
The importance attributed to this event by Montenegro is reflected in the fact that it was attended by the President of the Administrative Court of Montenegro, Branka Lakocević, and by the Director General for Civil Legislation, Ibrahim Smailović. Director General Ibrahim Smailović also took the opportunity to give an extensive lecture of his own, for which we would like to thank him very much once again.