Montenegro Names New Intelligence Agency Chief

24 Jul 15
Montenegro Names New Intelligence Agency Chief

The Montenegrin government on Thursday named a new intelligence agency chief, Dejan Perunicic, as Western pressure builds on the country to clean up the service.

Dusica Tomovic

The Montenegrin cabinet on Thursday namd the new director of the National Security Agency as Dejan Perunicic.

The move was made as Montenegro faces a deadline from Brussels to make progress in carrying out security reforms before receiving an invitation to join NATO.

A former senior intelligence officer, Perunicic retired three years ago, but, at the request of state leadership he was reinstated as acting director of the agency last December after the former director, Boro Vucinic, suddenly resigned.

“The proposal to name Perunicic is based on the fact that through his years of involvement in security sector he has gained professional credibility … which convinces me that he will carry out his duties successfully,” Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said, explaining the decision.

Perunicic, 58 was back on active service duty when the government announced a major purge of the security forces, planning to retire most senior staff aged 50 and older.

Through amendments to the Law on Police and the Law on the National Security Agency, adopted in March, the government said it had created the conditions to “rejuvenate the staff”.

The plan to retire all staff over 50 prompted the opposition to claim that Perunicic could not be appointed as he was too old.

They have also claimed Perunicic was made secret service chief to help expedite “the personal needs of Milo Djukanovic”.

“The agency has not been up to its priority tasks for years and we cannot expect it to do anything now, led by retired officer Dejan Perunicic,” the opposition Movement for Change said in a statement.

The security services have long been accused of unprofessional conduct and of being under political and foreign influences. Some officers are suspected of committing serious crimes.

Western embassies in Montenegro complained some years ago that their staff had been tapped by the secret service.

Reports of Russian penetration of the intelligence service are meanwhile seen as one reason why NATO rejected Montenegro’s membership bid at the alliance summit in September 2014.

NATO said Montenegro needed to enact “profound reforms” in the security and intelligence services and secure greater public support for joining the alliance.

The sudden resignation of former secret service chief Vucinic, widely considered a loyal associate to Djukanovic, fed claims that the security agencies were being purged under pressure from the West.

Months before his resignation, Vucinic admitted that the agency needed to be depoliticized, adding that any member who demonstrated a lack of professionalism, especially in terms of negligence in handling classified information, would be dealt with.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)