Statement on remarks by President of Civic Movement URA Žarko Rakčević

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    Podgorica, Montenegro (26 July 2016) — President of the Civic Movement URA Žarko Rakčević said on 26 July 2016 that “the Government is bragging that it practices the greater possible degree of transparency” and that “our Government so often functions as a secret society,” meaning that its work is not transparent. Those claims are groundless…

    Podgorica, Montenegro (26 July 2016) — President of the Civic Movement URA Žarko Rakčević said on 26 July 2016 that “the Government is bragging that it practices the greater possible degree of transparency” and that “our Government so often functions as a secret society,” meaning that its work is not transparent.

    Those claims are groundless.

    The Government of Montenegro is the most transparent government in the region. This can be proved if one goes to governments’ portals of other countries in the region and every citizen can be assured of this. The only comparative study of transparency of the Western Balkan governments, which, since it is only one can be taken as meritorious, was conducted in 2013 by NGOs Centre for Democratic Transition (Montenegro), CRTA (Serbia), Why Not (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and MOST ( Macedonia ) shows that the Government of Montenegro is most transparent government of those whose work was analysed. The study (available at: http://otvorenevlade.cdtmn.org/) shows, among other things, the following:

    Transparency of governments and ministries
    Montenegro – 52.83%
    Bosnia and Herzegovina (state level) – 37.74%
    Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republic of Srpska) – 49.06%
    BiH (Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina) – 35.85%
    Serbia – 41.51%
    Macedonia – 35.85%

    Since the publication of the study, Montenegro has essentially and substantially improved transparency. What is the essence of our progress? In the spring of 2014, we started to publish all the materials the Government considered other than those labelled as confidential under the law; we have improved the degree of compliance with the Law on Free Access to Information, we have further increased the speed of publishing materials; we have enhanced transparency of the materials; we have increased the number of appearances of the Cabinet members in public and almost every appearance of the Cabinet members is recorded by the Public Relations Service of the Government and delivered to the media and public.

    The claim that “government’s session, in democratic systems, are, as a rule, open to the public” is also groundless. Cabinet sessions that are fully open to the public are an exception, not the rule, which results in enormous increase in the number of telephone or closed sessions.

    The Government of Montenegro holds open annual sessions that are directly broadcast by the Radio and Television of Montenegro, where journalists have the opportunity to directly pose question to the Cabinet members.

    Activities of the Government of Montenegro, presented on social media, deserved prestigious international awards.

    The Government of Montenegro does not restrict media coverage of their work nor does it condition media, which is the practice in some countries, where, even in the normative sphere, there is a possibility of denying accreditation.

    The Government, therefore, “is not bragging” that its degree of transparency is the highest possible, as Mr Rakčević claims. Fact shows that the Government of Montenegro is the most transparent government in the region. We do not think we have reached a maximum. On the contrary, the Public Relations Service of the Government of Montenegro is making efforts towards further increasing transparency of the Government on the basis of the unquestionable commitment of the Government of Montenegro to continue to advance its transparency and accessibility. From this Thursday, we will start to broadcast press conference following the Cabinet sessions live via the Internet. The next step is to provide the media and the public with the possibility to pose questions to members of the Cabinet via social media. This should be followed by the improvement of public debates falling under the competence of the Government, etc. Communication challenges in Montenegro will be directly addressed by a new strategic document that would be drafted, as planned by the next year’s agenda, by the Government of Montenegro, in cooperation with foreign partners, PR experts, media and civil sector, which should make a new strategic breakthrough in boosting transparency.

    From the above, it is clear not only that the statements made by Mr Rakčević have no basis in reality, but that the openness and transparency of the work of the Government is its unquestionable commitment, and that improvements made in that regard produce results that cannot be put in question.

    Srđan Kusovac,
    Adviser to the Prime Minister
    Head of the Public Relations Service of the Government of Montenegro

    Source: Government of Montenegro