The coalition prEUgovor has been monitoring Serbia’s progress in regard to the adherence to political criteria for EU membership and policies covered under Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) of the European acquis in the negotiation process.
BCSP researchers Maja Bjelos and Isidora Stakic in this paper analyse the future of the Civil Protection units in North Kosovo that, according to the Agreement reached on 26 March 2015 between Belgrade in Prishtina, are to be dismantled and their personnel integrated into Kosovo’s institutions.
Parsimonious legal framework and parliamentarians’ reluctance to utilise their powers have impeded parliamentary oversight of police work. Hence, the parliament does not have a significant role in building police integrity in Serbia.
Increasing the transparency and accountability of the police is not viable if the Serbian public are made aware of current crime rates and the effectiveness of the police only by the Minister of Internal Affairs.
In this new publication of the BCSP you can find performance assessment of the municipal safety councils in Serbia and quality assessment of cooperation between the police and local self-governments in solving security problems at the local level.
Democratic changes in our country open, undoubtedly, many questions about work and efficiency of the state organs. The role of the public and control of activities in all fields of the society are the necessary prerequisites for joining European integration, and also Partnership for Peace and NATO. Further development of democracy in Serbia and Montenegro will not be possible without an organized, constant and efficient control. However, when we try to understand the role of the Serbian and Montenegrin Parliament, and the role of its different bodies in performing democratic control and oversight of the Council of Ministers and the Army, we must start from the Constitutional Charter which, as a constitutional frame, explicitly prescribes democratic and civil control of the Army, for the first time (Art. 54). In the previous Constitution of the FRY, passed in 1992, the issue of parliamentary control had significantly different basis, considering the work of the Yugoslav government, the executive branch and the Army. The control was carried out through the deputies’ questions, interpellation in refer to the work of the Yugoslav government, the question of confidence into the federal government and voting about it. In that period, following the constitutional logic, the Yugoslav Parliament worked out the modes and ways of controlling the Army and the Yugoslav government, in the parliamentary books of regulations. Therefore, the scope of the Committee for Defence and Security was to analyse the drafts of laws, other bills and general regulations referring to the sector of the FRY defence and security. This is where the power of this Committee ended, speaking about this topic. There was no possibility for the Committee to demand the information from the minister or ministry in charge, in order to get insight into the work of these ministries and, further, to point out at possible mistakes and failures. Therefore, the parliamentary control was not possible at the level of the parliamentary bodies. Speaking about the control of the Army, the situation is even more complex. The Defence Ministry and Minister himself could be the subject of the Yugoslav Parliament’s control - through the deputies’ questions and government’s holding the confidence and other mechanisms but a way could hardly be found for the Yugoslav Parliament to have democratic control of Army of Yugoslavia, which by Constitution was under the command of the Yugoslav President and the Supreme Defence Council.
Since the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro is still in the phase of constitution, since no Parliament Act or book of regulation have been passed and the number, names and scope of committees and commissions have not been determined yet, I believe that comparative legislation should be consulted in the countries which efficiently solved the problem of parliamentary control. At the same time, the specific characteristics of our system and state must not be forgotten. The fact that we are among the last European countries to carry out reforms in this field gives us a great comparative advantage so we could avoid all the mistakes and failures done in the countries in transition - if we studied carefully the experiences of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
Among all former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia went furthest in defining the place of the state parliament in the sphere of defence and security. National Assembly of Slovenia, as the highest legislative body, defines the policy of the state national security and control the armed forces, particularly through its committees, such as the Defence Committee, the Committee for Budget and Finance, the Committee for Control of the Intelligence Services and the Committee for Control of Carrying out the National Security Resolution, adopted by the National Assembly. Determining the defence budget, National Assembly controls and directs the development and equipment of the armed forces.
In Bulgaria, the armed forces have been de-politicised and submitted to the state civil authorities. The defence minister is a civilian and the ministry includes civilians only. The Bulgarian President is the supreme commander of the armed forces. The National Assembly of Bulgaria carries out the control of the armed forces through the Committee for National Security but this Committee provides the necessary social support, tries to be a mediator between the civil society and the army, strives for the army to get enough money to function. Bulgarian experiences showed that the lack of civilian experts, competent to take part in defence planning, could cause difficulties and disputes between civil officials in the Defence Ministry and military officials. That was the reason why the Centre for Security Studies was formed in Bulgaria, aimed to improve the knowledge of the Parliament members, as well as of the public as a whole, about this important field of social life.
The Czech Parliament introduced the institution of General Inspector in order to oversight the work of the Defence Ministry. In 1990, for the first time a civilian was appointed the defence minister, and he immediately put under his control the military intelligence and counterintelligence services. Afterwards, the Defence Ministry was reorganised, now with three departments: for strategy, for economy and for humanitarian and social issues. In the period from 1993 to 1995, the armed forces were reduced from 106 400 to 65 000 soldiers and reorganised due to the adjustments required by NATO standards. The Czech Parliament adopted the document entitled "The National Defence Strategy of the Czech Republic" in 1997 and it defined the geopolitical position, interests and politics in defence issues, the principles and main tasks as well as the defence resources, structure and the tasks of the armed forces. The Czech Parliament gives approval for sending the Czech Army units outside the state territory and confirms the decisions declaring the state of emergency, brought by the government.
Finally, Hungary defined precisely the authorities of the president, government and parliament by the Constitution passed in 1989. It is only the parliament which can announce the state of emergency or declare the war. By the Defence Act, the parliament took the right from the Defence Council to use the Hungarian armed forces in the country and abroad and for such a decision two-third majority in the parliament is needed. The problems in Hungary rise from the topics of control over the military education use of the armed forces during the strikes in local traffic and reaction of the government to the violations of the airspace. The Constitutional Court gave its interpretation according to which the role of the government should be strengthened so the Defence Ministry was re-organised and the Minister was authorised to take control over the armed forces and military intelligence service, as well as to propose officers for promotion to the president. According to the amendments of the Constitution, the border units are under the police control - in peace, and the government is authorised to call upon 5000 soldiers in reserve without the approval of the president or parliament. The parliament is authorised to approve the principles of national defence, the number of military members and the military budget.
Although the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro has not adopted the Parliament Act and Book of regulations yet, it is certain that the parliamentary control of the Army will be performed through the Committee of Defence and Security and the Commission for Control the Security Services. The scope of the Committee of Defence and Security should include - beside analysing draft laws on defence and army issues and production, traffic and transport of arms - the regulated participation in defining the national security policy of the State Union, which should be adopted by the Parliament as the highest legislative body. The Parliament, consisting of democratically elected deputies, will express interests of the people in the sphere of defence and therefore it should take part in creating and passing into effect the most important decisions in this field, as well as in refer to reorganisation, transformation and modernisation of the Serbian and Montegrin Armed Forces.
The members of the Committee must have much more information and data on activities of the Defence Ministry and the SMAF General Staff. Therefore, the Book of regulations should regulate the right and capability of the Committee to call upon the representatives of the Defence Ministry and General Staff to inform the deputies about certain issues important for bringing decisions in the Parliament of the State Union, when certain legal acts in the field of defence and security are adopted. The Committee should have clearly defined authorities and precisely worked out modes to implement its conclusions and decisions. The Book of regulations should certainly regulate the ministers' obligations to inform the parliamentary bodies about the activites at least once during the regular session of the SCG Parliament. This will, certainly, contribute to the more active participation of the deputies in creating the adequate defence policy and legal solutions in this field and in the forthcoming reorganisation of the SMAF.
A particularly important part of parliamentary control of the army is the control of the military security services, where the most of work is done. According to the Law on Control of Security Services, a Commission for Control of the Services has been established and the Law precisely regulates the tasks, scope and membership in this commission. The Law regulates the jobs, authorities, internal cooperation, democratic civil control and oversight of the security services, as well as the other issues, which are important for the work of these services, incorporated in the complete security system of Serbia and Montenegro.
Besides, the Art. 5 of the Law regulates that the security services, which were within the SMAF General Staff, are to be transformed into the Military Security Service and Military Intelligence Service within the Defence Ministry. Therefore, the Council of Ministers in enabled to get authority over all security services (there are the Investigation and Documentation Service and Security Service within the Interior Ministry). The Art. 6 of the Law regulates the obligation of internal cooperation among the federal services, as well as the need for their cooperation with the corresponding services in the members of state union, and with the security services of other countries. The Art. 17-19 of the Law regulate the obligation of the services to submit annual reports about the activities to the Council of Ministers and to the Parliament and they are also obliged to submit the reports on certain questions and problems when demanded by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. The important new regulation, introduced by this Law, is that the services are obliged to inform the public about their activities.
The whole chapter VII of the Law is on the democratic civil control. This part of the Law establishes a new legal institute of the democratic civil control of the services, performed by the Parliament of SCG through the Commission for Control of Security Services. The General Inspector, who controls the work of the services, is also established by this Law and the Council of Ministers is authorised to appoint him.
The Art. 47-56 regulate in details the name, the way of proposing and elections for the members of the Commission, the way its sessions are appointed, the participants who can
be invited and the need for openness to the public. The Law regulates in details the scope of the Commission - all its tasks are listed. The services are obliged to submit reports on their activities, the chiefs of the services are obliged to let the members of the Commission enter the premises of the services, to enable the access to the documentation, data and information about the work and to give answers to the questions about the activities of the services. The Law also regulates in details in which cases the services can deny the Commission members access to the data. The members of the Commission are obliged by the Law that they will keep state, official and military secrets. The obligation and the frequency of submitting reports about the work of the Commission to the Parliament is regulated by the Art. 55 of the Law.
I believe that the Law should be harmonised with the Constitutional Charter of the State Union as soon as possible, in order to remove some formal obstacles for enacting this Law which, applied in practice, will mark the beginning of the real civil control of security services.