CETINJE, 5 – 6 May 2011 – Over forty parliamentarians, government officials, and representatives of international organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia were gathered at the 12th session of the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum dedicated to the exchange of experiences in the practice of parliamentary oversight of security and defence sector in the region.
“The law on parliamentary oversight of defence and security sector was a result of the need and of the political will to put this sector under the parliamentary oversight, in a way that would guarantee legality in everyday work and respect for human rights and freedoms,” said the Chairman of the Forum Mr. Mevludin Nuhodžić, Head of the Montenegrin Committee for Defence and Security. The Forum was organized by the Parliament of Montenegro, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro and the South-Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC).
Emphasizing high quality of the legal framework that the Parliament of Montenegro established for the oversight of this sector, President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Mr. Ranko Krivokapić said that the Parliament has to be a source of democratic power for all institutions. “Security and defence, as a country’s strength, represent a basis for peace and a precondition for prosperous development. The continuity of cooperation in the frameworks of the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum is a clear indicator of success and understanding between the countries of the South-Eastern Europe,” Mr. Krivokapić concluded.
“The world of today is shaped by interdependence, and no country, regardless of its military power, can really guarantee security to its citizens without collaborating with others. Therefore, by participating in regional initiatives such as the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum, countries improve the integration of the region and contribute to its overall security,” pointed out Mr. Selmo Cikotić, Minister of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ms. Kristine Blokhus, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to Montenegro stated that the meeting was another important step in raising the awareness on parliamentary oversight of the security sector and specifically the oversight of arms exports. She also emphasized that UNDP has already a proven track record of successful small arms control interventions in our region. “A specific example is the on-going MONDEM project, which has provided targeted assistance to the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro,” Ms. Blokhus underlined.
“Democratic oversight of security forces prevents their potential political manipulations and ensures that the culture of impunity does not take hold within them. In this way, democratic civilian control directly improves the quality of security forces,” said Mr. Veselin Veljović, Director of the Montenegrin Police Directorate.
Head of the Montenegrin Agency for National Security Mr. Vladan Joković also declared that parliamentary oversight of the security sector needs to ensure the implementation of democratic standards while maintaining the required level of secrecy. “In this regard, special care needs to be taken when it comes to operational data. This is of special importance if we want intelligence agencies to trust their parliaments in treating the sensitive material in a reliable and confidential manner,” Mr. Joković concluded.
As a proof of successful regional collaboration in the field of defence and security, Mr. Diman Dimov, Head of SEESAC presented the Regional Report on Arms Exports. “The report contains detailed data on arms exports, contributed by all the countries present at the Forum, and it represents the only such regional initiative in the world besides that in the EU,” Mr. Dimov emphasized.
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Since its establishment in 2004, the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum has so far gathered more than 650 parliamentarians from the region and the European Union, who discussed topics of common importance, such as foreign affairs, education, culture, economy and security.