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In connection with the regular collaboration that takes place between the IRZ and the Institut für Ostrecht München e.V. (IOR), Dr. Mirijana Lazarova Trajkovska, former judge of present-day Northern Macedonia at the European Court of Human Rights, who works for the IRZ as a consultant, took part in an expert discussion staged by the Institute at its headquarters in Regensburg on 26 June 2019. She was accompanied by Dr. Stefan Pürner, the IRZ's Department Head for Northern Macedonia. The IOR participated in the exchange of opinion:
Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Friedrich-Christian Schroeder, Research Director at the IOR,
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Herbert Küpper, Managing Director of the IOR, and
Tomislav Pintaric, IOR Country Officer for Northern Macedonia.
Dr. Lazarova Trajkovska and Dr. Pürner informed their hosts about the current status of judicial reform in Northern Macedonia and supporting activities being conducted by IRZ. In the course of the exchange of expert opinion, the participants also identified similarities and differences with other states which the IOOC is conducting research on. The discussion focused in particular on demands placed on the judiciary and the role played by judicial councils.
Dr. Lazarova Trajkovska used the visit to Regensburg to familiarise herself with the activities of the institute as a whole. After her return to Northern Macedonia, she will also inform prospective young scholars about the possibility of research visits at the IOR, as the IOR network also supports German-speaking lawyers in their home countries.
Upon an invitation extended by the Chair for Public Law, in particular for German and European Administrative Law, Prof. Dr. Geritt Manssen and the Regensburg Faculty Group of the European Law Students' Association EL§A, Dr. Mirijana Lazarova Trajkovska, also delivered a guest lecture attended by a large audience on "The Effect of the Jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights on States in Transition".
The first Project Steering Committee meeting took place in Skopje on 28 June 2019 in the building of the Public Prosecutor's Office, where the so-called Initial Work Plan and the Visibility and Communication Plan were discussed and unanimously adopted.
Thanks to six weeks of preparation and extensive support provided by experts from Germany and Croatia, the project is now off to a successful start. Backing from various local authorities is also steadily improving. The next major step will be the kick-off event in September. At this event, the project is to be presented to a broad public in the presence of high-ranking representatives of national authorities along with foreign guests.
All the participants will now be engaging in wide-ranging activities in order to attain the project goals and bring the Twinning project to a successful conclusion. The game plan was set for this at this first project steering committee meeting.
On 20 and 21 June 2019, two events were staged in Skopje addressing the role of presidents of courts and heads of public prosecutor's offices. The events were organised jointly by the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, "Pavel Shatev", and the IRZ.
The kick-off event was entitled "The role of presidents of courts in the administration of courts - management and organisation of the work performed by judges and staff". Presidents of courts, their vice presidents and members of the Council of Judges were invited to attend the event.
Otto Graf, Permanent Representative of the German Ambassador to Northern Macedonia, welcomed the participants in an opening address to the conference, in which he underscored the role played by rule of law in preparations for EU membership.
Judge Shefajet Hajdari, President of the Gostivar Court of Appeal, then provided an overview of the legal foundations as well as actual practice in the management of courts in Northern Macedonia, while involving the participants in the discussion right from the outset. This allowed a comprehensive picture to be sketched of the problems facing the judiciary in Northern Macedonia, such as the lack of staffing or excessive workloads on judges. It became clear that the assignment and posting of personnel required is also influenced by statutory provisions, e.g. relating to the amount of detail to be contained in records of proceedings, or the use of dictating programs in the national language.
The German speaker was Winfried Schubert, former President of the Constitutional Court of Saxony-Anhalt and former President of the Higher Regional Court. In his remarks, the far-reaching competencies of the court presidium in Germany aroused considerable interest. In Northern Macedonia, some of its tasks, including the official assessment of judges' work, are performed by the Judicial Council.
The second day's event, which addressed the role played by heads of public prosecutor's offices, was intended for senior public prosecutors, their assistants and members of the Public Prosecutor's Council.
Presentations were given by Liljana Spasovska, Northern Macedonia Public Prosecutor's Office, and Winfried Schubert, former Prosecutor General.
Both events were characterised by intensive discussions. Another main topic was also the institution of the budget officer or officers. The participants discussed tools like benchmarking and cost-benefit analyses as well as how information obtained using these tools can be used.
The participants were surprised to learn that, according to surveys, trust and confidence in the judiciary is particularly salient in states which do not have a judicial council or where the judicial council only performs an advisory function.