Parliamentary committee to monitor foreign influence and government’s response to it

The Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) submitted to the Parliament of Montenegro a Draft decision on the establishment of a Committee for monitoring foreign interference in democratic processes, with a proposal that this authority, among other things, be tasked with observing potential foreign interference in all democratic processes in Montenegro, making concrete proposals together with corresponding measures and monitoring the performance of the Government in tackling undue interference.

In a letter addressed to Parliament Speaker Aleksa Bečić and heads of MP groups, CDT Executive Director Dragan Koprivica pointed out that some of the MPs publicly stated in reference to this topic that they expect the CDT to submit a detailed proposal, and that the CDT, in the spirit of good communication, has drawn up a concrete Draft decision on the establishment of the Committee, thus allowing them to provide relevant inputs.

He called on Parliament Speaker and heads of MP groups to table this initiative at one of the upcoming sessions of the Collegium of the Parliament Speaker so that its members could state their views and possibly pursue the setting of this Committee.

“By taking our proposal on board, the Parliament would be sending out a message that Montenegrin institutions are beginning to seriously address the issue of resilience of democratic processes,” Koprivica has said.

He added that the new convocation of the Parliament should be the space for building political consensus for resolving issues that burden and divide our society and for maintaining a tighter control over the executive branch in all areas, including this one.

„Also, the creation and the active work of this Committee would serve as a clear political message that the Parliament, being the most important political authority, will not be resigned to the disruption of democratic processes, regardless of where it might be coming from“, Koprivica has stated.

In addition to the proposal that the Committee be tasked with monitoring possible foreign interference in the democratic processes taking place in Montenegro, the CDT also suggested for this permanent body to identify possible areas that would require legislative and non-legislative measures, which could lead to an effective response to systemic threats to democratic processes, without calling into question key political and media freedoms.

It is also proposed that the Committee consider draft laws regulating areas that carry a risk of negative foreign interference in democratic processes.

“To consider cases of foreign interference in democratic processes, to propose conclusions for further action of the Parliament in this area, to monitor the performance of the Government of Montenegro in combating undue foreign interference,” reads the draft that the CDT has sent to the Parliament.

The CDT also suggests that the Committee make concrete proposals and measures in response to threats that may have political, economic, social and other consequences for Montenegrin citizens.

“And to establish contacts with all relevant domestic and international institutions and organizations involved in this subject matter, as well as with the media and the private sector so that they would get a better grasp of their role, duties and responsibilities in combating external interference, without challenging the freedom of expression,” the draft reads.

According to the proposal, the Committee should be composed of a president, a deputy president and 11 members of MP groups who would be elected as proportional to their representation in the Parliament.