German section of the International Commission of Jurists makes its annual trip to Montenegro

From 29 to 31 March 2016, the German section of the International Commission of Jurists visited Podgorica in Montenegro for their annual trip, which the IRZ helped to organise. German law professionals from various specialist fields took part in the trip, including Professor Dr. Michael Eichberger and Professor Dr. Andreas Paulus, two practising judges at the German Constitutional Court.

The delegation held talks with the Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, the President of the Constitutional Court, Desanka Lopičić, the President of the Parliament, Ranko Krivokapić, and representatives of various non-governmental organisations and specialised public prosecution offices. The programme also included an introduction by the German Ambassador, Gudrun Steinacker, and an embassy reception.

The wide range of professional profiles covered by both the German and the Montenegrin participants in this event gave both sides the opportunity to hold open, and sometimes also controversial, discussions.

For the Montenegrin project partners of the IRZ, the meeting with German law professionals represented an excellent opportunity to learn first hand about current trends in German law. Likewise, the visitors were given a broader insight into the current legal situation in Montenegro.

The visit from the German section of the International Commission of Jurists to Montenegro is another good example of the synergy effects, which the IRZ achieves through its many years of networking in its partner countries.

Regional conference of constitutional courts on voting rights in Montenegro

From 14 to 16 February 2016, a regional conference on the "judicial review of elections and voting regulations" was held by the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Montenegro in Budva, Montenegro. The conference was attended by constitutional judges from the host country, as well as from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. The topic for this event was chosen because of the parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in both Montenegro and Macedonia in 2016. This conference will therefore be followed up in April by another seminar on the same subject to be held at the Judicial Academy of Macedonia.

The speakers at the event held in Montenegro were Dr. Dieter Hömig, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court and the German-speaking judge at the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, Dr. Vojtěch Šimíček. They introduced the relevant German and Czech regulations and case law relating to these regulations.

Other speakers at the event were Elena Goševa, President of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia, Mirsad Ceman, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jadranka Sovdat, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Slovenia and Constitutional Judges Dr. Marko Babić and Mato Arlović from Croatia, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković from Montenegro and Predrag Ćetković from Serbia.

The purpose of the conference was to review elections and voting regulations. For the latter, it was pointed out, for example, that the Constitutional Court of Montenegro has in the past already overturned various voting regulations. One example of these is the rule stipulating that a party that had already been represented in parliament previously no longer had to produce supporting signatures for a new candidature. Another example concerns the regulation according to which support for the application of a presidential candidate had to be declared personally by two members of the election committee.

Following on from the intense professional part of the conference, a ceremony was held to mark Constitutional Court Day, with contributions from Minister of Justice, Zoran Pažin, and German Ambassador, Gudrun Steinacker, which highlighted the importance of the regional conference.

Germany and Montenegro sign a Working Schedule for a Cooperation Agreement

On 26 November 2015, State Secretary Dr. Stefanie Hubig and the Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, signed a working schedule for a cooperation agreement between the two ministries in Montenegro's capital Podgorica, in the presence of the German Ambassador Gudrun Steinacker. The event also received extensive coverage in the national media.

The agreement provides, amongst other things, for the further development of the collaboration with the Constitutional Court of Montenegro and with the country's centre of legal training. Support will also be provided for the newly formed special prosecution office in their efforts to combat organised crime and corruption.

The agreed additional measures follow on from the many years' of work carried out in these areas by the IRZ in Montenegro. Michael Haußner, a former Secretary of State, is also supporting the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro with a project that has been ongoing for several years and is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office from German funds allocated to the Stability Pact for South-East Europe. Michael Haußner used to be a permanent advisor to the Ministry of Justice in Croatia when the country was preparing to join the EU.

Secretary of State Dr. Stefanie Hubig also made the most of her stay in order to learn in situ about the many years' of successful work carried out by the IRZ in Montenegro. She also held extensive talks with Minister Pažin, the President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Desanka Lopičić, and the Chairman of the Committee for Political Systems, Justice and Administration in the Montenegro parliament, Rifat Rastoder, to discuss the current legal requirements for preparing for future entry into the EU.