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CDT report 2019

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UVOD

This is the report of the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) for 2019.

This is our attempt at capturing what has been an intense year from the perspective of our key achievements, most significant activities and our most successful actions.

We have been tackling all the major issues relevant for democracy building in Montenegro amid a specific political and social environment, marked by a non-democratic culture and activities.  
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We were engaged in the electoral reform process for as long as there was a slightest chance of its success.

Dozens of proposals that we developed to that end are however bound to wait for better times and for more responsible future political elites.
We have exposed numerous media manipulations and shed light on certain propaganda and anti-democratic narratives. We have been vocal against a growing ethnic nationalism, conservatism and clericalism.
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At times of boycott and political crisis, we made sure that institutions were still under our scrutiny, as we kept observing their transparency and openness and worked together with them towards improved practices.  

We have been developing regional and international cooperation and participating in major civil society initiatives.  Our Research center published dozens of research and recommendations in the areas of elections, good governance, judiciary, as well as in the realm of media and operational environment for CSOs engagement.  

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Once more, our conclusions have been incorporated in the official documents of both national and international institutions and organizations.

We have been truly cultivating the principles of transparency and accountability.

For years, we have been listed among the most transparent research centers in the world. This year as well, we made the cut.  
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In 2019, we decided to redefine our program areas, all the while considering trends in civil society development and current issues where our expertise could come in handy.

Our work in 2019 is hereby presented through our achievements in the program areas of democratic institutions and democratic society.
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DEMOKRATSKE INSTITUCIJE

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We participated in the work of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Legislation Reform in order to help strengthen the integrity of institutions.

We have submitted dozens of proposals to amend the electoral legislation during more than 50 meetings of the Committee and working groups.

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Our Research center kept developing the methodology that allows us to quantify Western Balkan countries’ progress in meeting the political criteria for EU accession.
 
In cooperation with partners from the Action SEE network, we have been keeping track of progress achieved in the areas of public administration reform, media, judiciary, fight against crime and corruption and elections.
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Having in mind the stalemate in EU accession negotiation process, we have launched a dialog on EU integration dynamics before the Parliament of MNE, with the support of the BTD and the Norwegian Embassy.

During the conference “Western Balkans and the EU: Democratic Consolidation through the Fulfillment of Political Criteria”, we presented the region-wide analysis: Democracy without Institutions.
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The focus of our analysis was also placed on integrity policy, being a prerequisite for the fight against corruption.

The analysis has shown that Montenegro has succeeded in meeting a merely formal precondition for implementation of integrity policy by developing integrity plans.

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We were also focused on the fight against crime and corruption in 2019. In cooperation with our partners from the SELDI regional network, we have conducted yet another survey on the perception of corruption in Western Balkan countries.

An opinion poll conducted under this initiative has shown that one-third of Montenegrin citizens had given a bribe or had been asked for one.
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We have contributed to the fight against corruption by way of developing analysis of the risk and effectiveness of Tax Administration policies.

The analysis was developed with the support of the US Center for Entrepreneurship.
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Public administration reform has yet again been the focus of our work.

We have been monitoring the implementation of the reform and the process of public policy planning and coordination.

All of our analyses, the main conclusion of which is that the reform is being implemented formally, but not substantially, are available at >>>
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We organized panel discussions with the relevant decision makers so as to encourage public dialog on such an important issue.

Our membership of the Public Administration Reform Council did not yield any results as almost no meetings of the said body were held in 2019.
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The monitoring carried out in the course of 2019 showed that our institutions remain to be open only formally, as a paramount working principle such as openness tends to depend on the will of a person at the helm of an institution, instead on a clear state policy.

The results of the research and recommendations for a greater openness of all government branches have been presented in the following practical policy proposal
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Our three-year work in the area of openness of institutions was rounded off by a conference entitled “Openness of Executive and Legislative Power Institutions in the Region and Montenegro: Form Without Substance”.

The civil sector came down on the proposed amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information fearing that these changes could turn into yet another mechanism for putting an even tighter grip on access to information.
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We have also tried to help promote openness through our membership in the Open Government Partnership Initiative.

However, the institutions involved in this process were in fact enclosed, forcing us to quit this body so as not to give legitimacy to institutions that meet the criteria of openness only formally.

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This year, we have yet again measured the openness of the judiciary - Montenegrin prosecution offices and courts.

The findings of our monitoring are presented on the website, alongside recommendations. We organized consultations and trainings involving representatives of judicial institutions to help them promote openness.
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The US Embassy in Podgorica provided support for our cooperation with the Special Prosecutor’s Office in the area of capacity building for combating money laundering and financial investigations.

We have organized a set of trainings for prosecutors tabling topics such as prevention of money laundering and detection and confiscation of proceeds of crime.
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The delegation of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the Special Police Team paid a study visit to Italian institutions: the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate (DNAA), Ministry of Justice, Criminal Police.

We have conducted a comprehensive research on the legislative and institutional framework for combating money laundering and the results achieved in the area. 
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We have continued activities to improve the status and working environment of NGOs in Montenegro.

As in previous years, we have applied the CSOs Sustainability Index in analyzing the conditions in which NGOs are operating in our country.
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With the support of the Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), the BTD and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, we have organized the Leadership Academy for Development in Podgorica, led by the world-renowned political scientist Frances Fukujama for experienced professionals from the Western Balkan countries. 
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The project entitled “Western Balkans in EU Accession Process: Meeting the Political Criteria” has enabled us to monitor the Western Balkan countries’ progress in meeting the political criteria on the path to EU membership.

The project was supported by the Norwegian Embassy and the Balkan Trust for Democracy. The project was supported by the Norwegian Embassy and the Balkan Trust for Democracy.
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Through the project “Strengthening Institutional, Political and Electoral Integrity in Montenegro” we have analyzed the implementation of integrity policy in our country, being a precondition for the fight against corruption.

The project was backed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
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The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also backed the activities implemented in the Democratic institutions segment.
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We have been measuring the level of transparency of institutions in Montenegro under the project entitled “The Use of New Technologies in Promoting Government Transparency”, with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
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Under the project entitled “Accountability, Technology and Institutional Openness Network in South East Europe - ACTION SEE”, we have been collaborating with our partners from the ACTION SEE network in assessing the level of transparency of all branches of government in Montenegro and countries of the region.

This initiative was financially backed by the EU.
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The project “Open Judiciary” was aimed at measuring the level of openness of judicial institutions in Montenegro, and was implemented in partnership with the Association of Judges, with the financial support of the Ministry of Justice.
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The project “Public administration reform: strategic change management” was aimed at monitoring the implementation of public administration reform and policy planning and coordination. The project was supported by the EU.
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The project “Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index” has enabled us to continuously analyze all aspects of work of NGOs in Montenegro. The project was supported by USAID.


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DEMOKRATSKO DRUŠTVO

This year, a part of CDT staff invested their efforts in developing the Raskrinkavanje.me online platform that we had previously launched together with partners from the Sarajevo-based citizen association "Zašto ne".

Raskrinkavanje.me team has been analyzing different narratives disseminated by the media and used those findings to come up with recommendations for improving public communication.
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In order to improve the quality of media content and ensure higher professional standards and responsibilities of the media in Montenegro and the region, the Raskrinkavanje team joined the SEECheck regional network and became a member of the prestigious international IFCN network made up of world-renowned fact-checking organizations.
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We continued to pursue research in the field of malignant foreign influence through regional cooperation with the Center for the Study of Democracy from Bulgaria, the International Republican Institute and the Center for International Private Entreprise (CIPE) from the United States (USA).

In cooperation with the Globsec Forum, we started analyzing the Montenegrin media content in the field of foreign policy.  
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We joined the European Media Literacy Accelerator initiative launched by TechSoup from Poland, with financial support from the State Department.

Through this initiative, civic activists and journalists from all countries of the region are trained to organize various thematic trainings in the field of media and information literacy and thus help build these skills in as many citizens as possible.
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Reminiscing about 1989 in Europe, Yugoslavia and Montenegro, we looked back at the previous thirty-year period from the perspective of politics, society and culture.

While reflecting on the past, we also recalled the year 1949, when NATO was established.
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As members of the National Operational Team, we have been coordinating the task force for analyzing VE narratives and participated in the newly formed Protection and Assistance Team.

We have organized three-day activities dedicated to combating violent extremism together with the Ministry of Interior.
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The “NATO Info Center – Countering Disinformation and Propaganda” project aims to analyze events, activities and ways in which propaganda was and is being spread in the past 70 years since NATO was founded.

Activities of the NATO Info Center were funded by the NATO's Public Diplomacy Division through the “Info-Center on Euro-Atlantic Integration” project.
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As a way of commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of disintegration of Yugoslavia, CDT launched a public dialog on 1989 and how it reflected on a united Europe and former Yugoslav states, together with partners from six countries of the EU and the Western Balkans.

The “Thirty Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall” project was financially supported by the European Commission - the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.
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O CDT-U

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Thank you to all who cooperated with us and helped improve the quality of our work.

We hope that our work together will continue to contribute to democratic changes in Montenegro.

CDT team

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