Arrests of Montenegrin high ranking officials sparks discussion on corruption and EU accession
The recent arrests of the mayor of Budva, Montenegro, a privatization adviser to prime minister and deputy director of a local bank have triggered public debate about the actual levels of corruption in the country with its EU accession, the local media report.
While the authorities have used the arrests as an example of their resolve and will in addressing issues that have been highlighted by the EU as not being compatible with EU standards, local experts say that the country needs stronger anti-corruption efforts.
“Montenegro is still at the very beginning of the fight against corruption and organized crime. We still do not have institutions capable of unbiased procedures, transparent public information or internal accountability for failures,” Daliborka Uljarevic, executive director of the Center for Civic Education in Podgorica, was quoted by the local newspaper commenting on the arrests.
The arrests occurred in March 2014 and include three individuals who now remain in custody. Montenegrin police arrested Budva Mayor Lazar R. on suspicion of abuse of office, as well as Aleksandar Ticic, the privatization adviser to Prime Minister Milo D., and Jelica P., the deputy director of Prva Bank.
Charges stem from a 2007 bank loan for EUR 2 mln to the private company Luna, which R. backed with a state guarantee. According to the police, the loan was used to purchase state land in Kosljun, and that it has not been repaid. The bank’s receivables were collected from the municipality.
The arrests occurred approximately around the time when another two chapters were opened in EU accession negotiations. Up to date, out of a total of 35 negotiation chapters, 12 chapters have been opened for negotiations of which two chapters have already been provisionally closed. Further accession conferences will be planned, as appropriate, in order to take the process forward in the second half of 2014. The accession negotiations were launched in June 2012.