Montenegro: corruption-fighting efforts face scepticism

Prevention and suppression, Govt says. Just the small fish, NGO

07 April, 19:13

    The Parliament building in Podgorica The Parliament building in Podgorica

    PODGORICA - The environment is not the only difficult and delicate negotiation chapter in Montenegro's EU integration process (for which Podgorica estimates it will have to invest 1.5 billions euros). Corruption is also a key theme, one of the scourges of the country, which came in 61st place in Transparency International's latest corruption rankings.

    "The government is aware of the problem," said Justice Minister Zoran Pazin during a meeting with a group of European journalists in Podgorica. "But there is a will to change things.

    We are working towards this on two fronts: on one side, we have created an anti-corruption agency that has the aim to prevent conflict of interests in the public administration and to supervise financing of parties, on the other side, we are working on suppression of the phenomenon".

    The minister then also pointed to the creation of the "Special prosecutor's office" that has already carried out some significant arrests.

    Nevertheless, several observers are sceptical of the real desire to change things.

    "The anti-corruption agency is a farce," said Vanja Calovic, executive director of the MANS NGO that investigates corruption, conflicts of interest and parliament's activities. "It was created just to show a response following pressure from the EU and U.S., but up to now the investigations have only concerned small fish," she told a group of journalists. Then she turned on the EU: "It would consider anything good, no one wants to create problems considering the accession process underway," she said.

    Calovic's activism for MANS has often made her the target of threats and intimidation. More than a year ago, some pro-government media launched a defamatory campaign against her, publishing videos that turned out to be false, aiming to discredit her. But this has not stopped her, and her efforts have borne fruit. Last year two ex-mayors and several of their associates were arrested for embezzlement, and more than 50 million euros were returned to state coffers.

    "The aim is transparency," Calovic said. The NGO does not only deal with reporting corruption, but it carries out its own investigations. As a result, it is often threatened and intimated, but Calovic said "it is part of the job".(ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean