23 Sep 14
NATO Aspirant Montenegro Launches Intelligence Reforms
To meet one of the key conditions for obtaining an invitation to join NATO, Montenegro plans to reform its intelligence agency to meet the Western military alliance’s standards.
The Montenegrin government has proposed emergency amendments to the law governing the National Security Agency, ANB, to establish a security system to meet NATO standards and improve the way in which the country treats classified information.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s office asked for the bill to considered in parliament’s autumn session which will start next week, as Montenegro seeks to put itself back on track for membership of the Western military alliance after not receiving an invitation to join at NATO’s recent summit.
Under the new law, the National Security Agency will have to report to the police and the state prosecution if there is an indication that a criminal offence is being prepared or organised.
The legislation will also define the agency’s role in the collection of classified data and the exchange of intelligence information with NATO and the EU, and also provide stricter measures in case of the violation of human rights and freedoms.
Monitoring and surveillance and the use of equipment for wiretapping and taking covert photographs will be possible only with the approval of the Supreme Court.
“The law represents a normative assumption for further profiling ANB for appropriate NATO standards, with the primary objective of dealing with security challenges, risks and threats,” the government explained in the document that was submitted to parliament last week.
Some analysts said that the weakness of the intelligence agency was one of the key reasons for Montenegro not receiving an invitation to join NATO at its summit in Wales in early September.
In June, NATO decided against offering membership of the military alliance this year, saying it would reconsider Montenegro’s bid in 2015.
NATO officials said Montenegro should implement “profound reforms” in the security and intelligence services and secure majority public support as key conditions for membership.
The Associated Press news agency reported in July that NATO postponed a decision to invite Montenegro to join the alliance because of the large-scale penetration of Montenegro’s intelligence service by Russia. But PM Djukanovic has dismissed claims that Russian spies have riddled the service.
Dina Bjaramspahic, from the Montenegrin watchdog organisation Alternativa Institute, told BIRN that the country’s key problem remains the rule of law and the necessity of building institutions that can fight corruption and organised crime.
“The reform of the security and intelligence sector has also been set as a serious, not only declarative, condition for an invitation to membership and we should take advantage of this integration process,” Bajramskaphic said.
But she said she did not believe that intelligence sector reform was the key reason for NATO delaying its membership invitation.
“Montenegro needs to be tested once again and to confirm its sincerity and loyalty to the Euro-Atlantic family, bearing in mind relations with Russia and the fact that half of the population is against membership of NATO,” Bajramspahic said.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)