Members of Parliament to publicly state whether they are against foreign interference

The Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) has, for the third time, submitted an initiative to the parliamentary clubs in the Parliament of Montenegro for the establishment of a Committee for monitoring foreign interference in democratic processes (the Committee).

We first submitted this initiative to the Parliament in March 2021 and renewed it in June 2022 when, despite unequivocal political support, the most significant formal step towards its finalization was not taken.

We call on Members of Parliament to ensure that our proposal is included in parliamentary proceedings this time. We are confident that there is sufficient political majority to form this Committee in the current convocation, and that the time has come for the public to hear precise public statements from the parliamentary clubs on this matter.

This Committee’s establishment and active operation would send a clear message that the Parliament, as the most important political body, does not tolerate the disruption of democratic processes, regardless of its source. The aim is to institutionalize and formalize “discussions” on this topic, which are currently taking place in media niches created on social media and in media close to political options that benefit from these influences. The discussions should take place in the only place of relevance for such an endeavor – in the Parliament of Montenegro.

Our initiative is modeled after the Special Committee for foreign interference in all democratic processes in the EU, including disinformation (INGE), which operates within the European Parliament. The mandate of the INGE committee is to assess the level of foreign threats in various spheres, such as major national and European elections across the EU; disinformation campaigns in traditional and social media to shape public opinion; cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure; direct and indirect financial support and economic coercion of political actors and subversion of civil society.

Our proposal involves establishing a working body in the Parliament that would, among other things, monitor any foreign interference in all democratic processes in Montenegro and oversee the Government’s actions in this field.

In addition to this, we have proposed that the Committee identify possible areas for which legislative and other measures may be needed to effectively respond to the systemic undermining of democratic processes, without jeopardizing the fundamental democratic principles of freedom of speech, political action, and the protection of the right to free media activity.

If there is political will, we would like our initiative to enter the parliamentary procedure in a way that the formal proposal is signed by representatives of parliamentary clubs of both the government and opposition, which can be agreed upon at a meeting of the College of the Speaker of the Parliament. This approach would demonstrate a determination to solve this problem and showcase a new political culture and kickstart the strengthening of the constitutional position of the Parliament.

Therefore, we once again call on Members of Parliament to exhibit significantly more responsible behavior in this convocation and to systematically dedicate themselves to building democratic control instruments that will prevent the undermining of our democratic processes.

Dragan Koprivica

Executive Director of CDT