The appointment of Radule Zuric to the Council of the State Audit Institution (SAI), Prime Minister Dusko Markovic has additionally reinforced his influence on state institutions that should control his work and the work of his party.
After installing Sreten Radonjic as Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ASK), Markovic now has his direct access to the SAI through his best man Zuric, which has lost this institution the little credibility and independence it enjoyed in the public.
Since the SAI has had very serious objections to spending the state money and the way of managing state bodies in the last few years, we believe that the latest staffing was aimed at minimizing the influence of that institution. Zoran Jelic, one of the key actors of the Tape Recording affair, was brought to the SAI in the past. Now, together with Markovic’s best man, he will control the government, state-owned companies, and even the DPS itself.
It is not difficult to assume what kind of audit can be done by Markovic’s best man and party colleague, because they are involved in a typical example of conflicts of interest due to private and party ties. What is particularly dangerous is that this apparent conflict of interest is not recognized as such, not only among its actors, but even by the Parliament of Montenegro, which has appointed such personnel to the SAI and which should be taking care of the public interest. On the other hand, participation in corruption affairs and family and friendship relationships are shown as primary qualifications in comparison with integrity, reputation and expertise.
On the other hand, whether there is conflict of interest or not in this case, it would be Sreten Radonjic, another part of Markovic’s staff, to decide. Therefore this example only is sufficient to indicate the level of corruptness of these two institutions.
Strengthening the independence and integrity of state institutions through the simultaneous reduction of the influence of political parties and informal centers of power is one of the key recommendations of the European Commission, which is being given to Montenegro continuously. Political influence, nepotism, party employment and decision-making outside of the official system are cited as one of the key causes of the capture of Montenegrin institutions and the weak rule of law.
The latest examples of the staffing policy show that the EU recommendations are not taken seriously and that the ruling party is still insisting on installing its staff in key positions, especially in institutions publicly perceived as “disobedient”, to execute party decisions without questions.
Unfortunately, this clearly shows that the official government, despite the publicly declared commitment to the EU, through a staffing policy such as this, still has a need to prevent an effective fight against corruption and the building of strong state institutions.
Director of MANS Investigation Center