Acting Head of OSCE Mission to Montenegro UK response

Thank you Madam Chair

Thank you Ms Leirtroe for your report today and please pass on our thanks to your team for their work over the last twelve months.

At yesterday’s informal meeting, we heard first hand from one of your key interlocutors – Director Ljubojevic. This practice really helps Vienna delegations understand better the impact the OSCE field presences are having on the ground. We look forward to further such briefings in the next reporting period.

We appreciate that the Mission was able to respond to the challenges of operating during a global pandemic – successfully adapting your working methods to ensure continued support to your Host, across a diverse range of themes including democratisation, media, security and governance. These are essential areas on which the Mission is well-placed to provide expertise, support and advocacy. We would particularly encourage your focus on democratisation and media, on minority and marginalised groups, as well as on the promotion of gender equality.

On democratisation, we welcome the Mission’s work to increase capacity and resilience of democratic structures, including support for the variety of Parliamentary reforms underway, and for the work of the State Election Commission, building capacity, enhancing transparency, and building trust ahead of the Parliamentary elections on 30 August. It will be important to continue this focus and support to capacity building this year too with further elections at municipal level in coming weeks. Your assistance to increase the State Election Commission’s cooperation with NGOs working in the area of elections and disabilities is also really valuable.

Media freedom is an essential component of any democracy. Your focus on professional journalism, including through strengthening the capacity of institutions, is particularly welcome. We also appreciate your support to the Union on Public Service Broadcasts and its membership of local broadcasters that play such an important role in their communities, particularly in times of crisis. Journalists must be able to carry out their work without fear of threats, abuse or physical attack. We read with interested about the Mission’s campaign, on several national TV stations, to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. We would welcome more information on the Mission’s activities to support safety of journalists in future reports.

We commend your work on promoting gender equality, and on ensuring gender parity with respect to participants, experts and trainers in all Mission programme activities. It is clear from your report that the Mission has engaged with a wide range of partners to ensure that gender is incorporated into their activities, including with the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as with the Police on implementing the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.

On the importance of engaging youth, including young women, we appreciate your continued support to the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), as well as to the Ministry of Sports and Youth – in particular to enhance the capacities of local level representatives. We would welcome hearing more about the outcomes of such assistance and the value this is bringing at the local level.

On law enforcement capacity, we appreciate that you have been working with the Police Directorate to increase their capacity in the fight against organised crime. We also recognise your wider community engagement, including through promoting peacebuilding, tolerance and intercultural learning, in tandem with the National Coordinator for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism (VERLT). Engaging all stakeholders, including civil society and NGOs, is essential in the fight against organised crime – and the support and convening power of the Mission is a real asset here.

Thanks once again to you and your team for your continued commitment – particularly in such a significant year – one where elections brought the democratic transition of power and where we all faced the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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