Report on Local and Regional Democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - CG (8) 24 Part II
Rapporteurs: Louis ROPPE (Belgium) and Mr Leon KIERES (Poland)
In conformity with Committee of Ministers Statutory Resolution (2000) 1, which stipulates that “The Congress shall prepare on a regular basis country-by-country reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in all member States and in States which have applied to join the Council of Europe, and shall ensure, in particular, that the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government are implemented”, the Institutional Committee decided to ask Louis Roppe (L, Belgium) and Owen Masters (R, United Kingdom) to prepare the report on the situation of local and regional democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with a view to this country’s accession to the Council of Europe. Following Mr Masters’ appointment as head of the Council of Europe Election Observation Mission in Kosovo, the Institutional Committee was invited to appoint a new co-rapporteur.
The Congress Rapporteurs, assisted by consultant Jean-Marie Woehrling, and accompanied by Ulrich Bohner, Deputy Head of the Congress Secretariat, and Sylvie Affholder, of the Congress Secretariat, made two visits to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in June and September 2001, to prepare this interim report. The programmes of their visits are appended as Appendices 1 and 2. The Rapporteurs take this opportunity to express their warm thanks to the consultant for his valuable collaboration.
The Congress Delegation would also like to extend its thanks to the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities of Yugoslavia and the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro for their support and co-operation, as well as the Federal, Serbian and Montenegrin authorities for their collaboration on the preparation of this report. Hans-Peter Furrer, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the members of the Council of Europe’s Belgrade Office, in particular François Friederich, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Belgrade, and Nadia Cuk, Political Adviser, and Special Representatives of the Secretary General in Montenegro Eva Tomic and Eva Koprolin and their staff must also be mentioned and thanked here for their essential assistance in co-ordinating the field work. The data supplied by the OSCE was greatly appreciated by the Rapporteurs, as was the sound co-operation established with that organisation for the purpose of this review of the situation of local and regional democracy in Yugoslavia.
1. Participation of the local and regional authorities of Yugoslavia in the work of the Congress
In recent years the Congress has established numerous contacts with the democratic local authorities in Serbia and Montenegro, thereby highlighting the decisive action of the mayors of the “free” towns run since 1996 by the democratic opposition, who have encouraged participatory democracy at the local level and were the driving force behind the movement that brought about democratic change.
In 1997 the Congress granted the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro observer status with the Chamber of Local Authorities to enable the local authorities to take part in the work of the Congress. Following the democratic turning point in Serbia in October 2000 and the granting of special guest status by the Parliamentary Assembly in January 2001, the Congress offered observer status in March 2001 to the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities of Yugoslavia (after its merger with the Association of Free Towns of Serbia), then in May 20011 granted special guest status to a delegation of local and regional elected representatives from Yugoslavia. With a view to examining the question of the composition of a special guest delegation of Yugoslavia to the Congress, and bearing in mind the country’s federal and complex structure, the Congress had several contacts with associations representing local, regional and federal authorities in Yugoslavia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in keeping with Articles 5.2 and 3.1 of the Congress Charter, submitted an official procedure on 6 September 2001, which the Bureau examined on 9 October 2001. In the present context of discussions on the “federal question”, the Yugoslav authorities as well as the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities of Yugoslavia and the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro are to be congratulated for reaching an agreement on this procedure.
2. Congress activities in Serbia and Montenegro
In addition to the institutional contacts, the Congress has organised and participated in several seminars in recent years to foster and strengthen local and regional democracy.
l The Congress took part, for example, in the Seminar on the European Charter of Local Self-Government organised by the Local Democracy Agency in Subotica in December 1998. In December 1999 in Budapest it organised a Round Table to set up a partnership with Serbian and Montenegrin towns. In co-operation with the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities of Yugoslavia, the Congress organised a conference in Belgrade in June 2001 on local self-government, transfrontier co-operation and regionalism in Serbia/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Congress President Llibert Cuatrecasas recently made several trips to Serbia and Montenegro in person.
l A Congress delegation took part in the observation of the early local elections held in Podgorica and Herceg Novi (Montenegro) on 11 June 20002, the 23 December 2000 parliamentary elections in Serbia3 and the early parliamentary elections held in Montenegro on 22 April 20014.
l With the support of the Council of Europe and the European Union the Congress and its Local Democracy Agencies have developed a major partnership programme to support and foster local democracy. The first Agency was set up in Subotica in 1993 and has managed, often in difficult, delicate conditions, to keep up an activity essential to the development of civil society and to support the local authorities in the so-called free towns. In May 2001, following the commitment of the municipalities of Montenegro to setting up a decentralised international co-operation structure for the promotion of local democracy, the Agency for Montenegro was opened in Niksic. At the request of the local authorities in Nis, and particularly former mayor Zoran Zivkovic, today Federal Minister of the Interior, a new Agency, for the region of central and southern Serbia, is to be opened in Nis in October 2001. The Local Democracy Agencies make a useful contribution to the development of local democracy, intercultural dialogue, transfrontier co-operation and regionalisation, with the help of the Council of Europe (via the Congress and the Programme of Confidence-Building Measures), the Council of Europe’s member States, in particular the Irish and Swiss authorities, and the towns, regions and NGOs which work in partnership with the LDAs.
l This work in partnership was supplemented by the “Forum of Cities and Regions of South-East Europe”, held in Skopje in November 2000, then in Istanbul in November 2001. At the invitation of the local authorities in Novi Sad, the 3rd Forum will be held there from 18 to 20 April 2002, and should help to strengthen partnerships with other cities in Europe and boost the practical assistance of the international organisations, particularly the European Union, in fostering the social and economic development of the towns and cities of South-East Europe.
II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN YUGOSLAVIA
The Congress is well aware that the main question in Yugoslavia is the “federal question”, which is relating to the future relations between Serbia and Montenegro. This was the issue in a recent interim report of the Venice Commission on the constitutional situation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Commission observed that the key issue at present is the question of the future status of Montenegro. It found that solving this issue by way of a referendum alone would present difficulties in terms both of the legality and the legitimacy of such a solution. The Commission therefore urged the interested parties to try to reach a common proposal through bona fide negotiations, which could then be submitted to a popular referendum and confirmed as necessary by decisions of the relevant bodies. Moreover, it found that clarifying this situation would be fundamental in view of a possible accession to the Council of Europe.
Under the old political and legal order in Yugoslavia, the municipalities were considered as a “system of self-governing democratic integration of socio-political organisation representing the basic communities”. Although Yugoslavia soon abandoned the system of dual subordination between the local and higher authorities, it maintained the principle of the functional unity of power and the municipalities were not perceived as the expression of a local level of power in the western sense, distinct and independent from central government, but as the basic unit of a system which, although based on federative, self-governing principles, formed a single whole. In this context the Yugoslav municipalities were not easily distinguishable from the State, even though they had substantial powers and a large degree of autonomy. This autonomy was not embodied in legal instruments, however, in view of the strict political control to which it was subject. It was purely functional.
One illustration of this autonomy is the power of each municipality to adopt its statutes freely and set its own standards in this field. The statutes define the internal organisation of the municipality and, in particular, the powers that can be “decentralised” out to district, neighbourhood or village level. This notion of municipal statutes has been conserved in both Serbia and Montenegro by the successive laws passed since 1989, in order to leave the municipality some leeway in its internal organisation, and this can be considered as a positive tradition.
Although subject to strict political control before 1989, Yugoslavia’s municipalities were not under such strict administrative control. Their actions were merely checked for compliance with the law and the Constitution. Problems of conformity with the political choices of the State were in fact settled through extra-legal channels, as it was the same political design - that of the party – that inspired the authorities at every level and in every sphere of public action. In practice, municipal self-government went hand in hand with the principle of the functional unity of the administration. The municipality had been devised and organised not as a body in its own right but as a function of economic, political and social integration closely linked to the State. The fact that this approach was not very sensitive to local specificities explains why the municipal units went on expanding (see below). In such a context there was no clear legal picture of the division of powers between the state and municipal levels. The role of the municipalities was mainly to implement decisions taken at a higher level.
This did not prevent the pre-1989 municipalities from playing an important economic and social role. They would have a say in the choice of managers, business policy and investments, etc. in Yugoslav firms. The municipal assembly could suspend any action in violation of workers’ rights or public property. The municipal authorities were responsible for upholding the law, security of people and property and public order and peace in the economic and social spheres. Their powers also included environmental protection, spatial planning, urban development and building policy. They provided various transport, water supply, health, educational, cultural, sporting and leisure facilities. In other words, as the instrument of a supreme authority they were vested with a wide range of responsibilities to help preserve the socio-political and socio-economic system. To do this they had extensive, often well developed infrastructure. However, the question of who owned the infrastructure remained largely unanswered under the political system in place at the time. The municipalities also enjoyed a degree of fiscal independence. They were responsible for fixing tax sources and rates within certain economic and political limits conditioned by the domestic product and various social criteria. The main sources of tax revenues were personal income tax and business tax, taxes on income from movable assets and real estate and various municipal taxes. The municipalities had to share the overall tax revenue (collected by a single Agency) with the Federal State and the Republic. The share varied from one municipality to another. Some municipalities (the wealthier ones) could keep as much as 30 to 40% of the taxes collected on their territory. Those which were less developed could keep 50 to 70% of the taxes they collected. Municipalities in Serbia were generally free to use 25% of their overall tax revenues as they saw fit. In addition to these resources the municipalities had other sources of income characteristic of the spirit of self-management that prevailed at the time, ie “voluntary contributions from citizens”, decided by referendum, for use in financing specific projects. This tradition of voluntary contributions has been maintained by the successive laws passed since 1989 and is included in the draft law prepared by the new government. It appears to be a form of supplementary income tax decided by referendum to cater for local needs. The term “voluntary contribution” is misleading insofar as everyone has to pay.
Subsidies from the Federal Republic supplement these resources to provide a degree of budgetary equalisation. This revenue from government sources has also been maintained and its importance has even increased in recent years.
A succession of territorial reforms gradually reduced the number of municipalities in Yugoslavia from 11,500 in 1946 to 4,000 in 1952, 1,470 in 1955, 836 in 1959 and 530 in 1979. In Serbia (including the two autonomous provinces) the number of municipalities dropped from 217 in 1967 to 180 in 1979. In 1999 there were 169 municipalities and 4 towns, plus Belgrade with its special status. Excluding Kosovo, there are about 140 municipalities covering 77,474 km2, with approximately 7.8 million inhabitants. On average, therefore, municipalities have about 50,000 inhabitants.
Traditionally a distinction is made between municipalities and “cities” or metropolitan areas, of which there are four: Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac. The cities each group together several urban centres. This traditional distinction between municipalities and cities has been maintained in the successive laws and is also maintained in the new draft law. It does not seem to be in the least controversial.
The structure of the local authorities has not changed over the years and appears to satisfy all those concerned (at least in Serbia; in Montenegro a reshuffle is not to be excluded as there are some municipalities with small populations and little administrative power). Generally, however, because of the large size of the municipalities it is not necessary to resort too frequently to inter-municipal co-operation, although this is possible and provision is made for it in the law. When necessary, however, activities can also be organised on a smaller, infra-municipal scale, in accordance with principles defined in the municipal statutes, thereby giving a degree of autonomy to neighbourhoods, villages or other sub-municipal entities. These sub-municipal communities are the grassroots level of direct local democracy, which seems to be quite a thriving tradition. The local community adopts its own statute, may have legal status and may also make use of the voluntary contribution system to raise funds.
To sum up, then, the municipalities of pre-1989 Yugoslavia were an important level of management of public affairs with significant means and a remarkable role, but closely bound up with the State because of the political system, which excluded any real autonomy at local level. With the change of regime the different republics that emerged from the former Yugoslavia opted for the western model of local self-government. Administrative structures instituting municipalities with formal autonomy were introduced, but they were never given the wherewithal to assume that autonomy to the full. The problem was mainly financial, their resources being controlled by central government. Furthermore, public property (infrastructure, facilities, buildings, etc) has remained largely in the hands of the Republic of Serbia, so the local authorities do not really have municipal property commensurate with their powers. Resolving this question apparently means amending the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In addition to this legal consideration, however, important political and financial interests are at stake, particularly in the perspective of privatisation.
Another difficulty resides in the fact that appointments to local authority posts – in education, for example - are controlled, de facto or de jure, by the central government. Finally, there is the matter of the definition of the effective legal powers of the municipalities, which are guaranteed by the Constitution and defined in broad but vague terms by the successive laws. The problem is that these laws do not guarantee the effective, exclusive exercise of these responsibilities insofar as the State has the upper hand and controls the resources needed by the municipalities to carry out their duties.
All things considered, the problem of local authorities in Serbia, as in Montenegro and in the republics that were part of the former Yugoslavia in general, is not a matter of legal status but of creating a political framework for the effective promotion of local self-government and providing the requisite financial, human and material resources. The laws on local self-government can and must, of course, be improved, but this will only partially solve the problem. As things stand the laws are not seriously deficient in their positive provisions or in terms of compatibility with the European Charter of Local Self-Government. They do not, however, provide a sound basis for strong local authorities in the broad national context.
Having filled in the general background, let us take a more detailed look at the situation of local government in Serbia and Montenegro.
III. THE PROBLEMS FACING LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA TODAY
The present-day organisation of local government is based on the Law of 11 November 1999 (which the author has analysed in part). This law superseded the law of 15 July 1991, as amended on several occasions, which had been examined by Mr Jean-Marie Woehrling and Mr Philippe De Bruycker. In addition to this general law, other laws which affect local democracy include: a 1993 law on State administration; a 1993 law on public revenues and expenditure; a 1998 law on the participation of municipalities and towns in the distribution of the business tax. There are no doubt other relevant laws of which we were not informed.
The need to reform this legislation on local government is not denied. A reform had already been requested prior to the change of regime in 2000 and a draft law on local government dated 16 August 1997 had been prepared by the association of free towns and municipalities of Serbia. (Mr Antonio Rebordao Montalvo prepared a legal opinion on this draft law in January 1998.)
A new draft local government reform was prepared by the Serbian government and communicated to us in June 2001 and was examined and commented on by Professors Himsworth of Edinburgh University and Mäenpäa of the University of Helsinki on 24 August 2001.
1. Constitutional framework
a) Constitution of the Yugoslav Federation
The provisions of the federal Constitution concerning local self-government are succinct: Article 6 para. 4 stipulates that the right to local government must be guaranteed in conformity with the Constitution of each Republic. The principle of local self-government is thus enshrined in the federal Constitution, but not defined, a task left to the Constitutions of the member States.
The problem of public property being concentrated in the hands of the central government is frequently attributed to the provisions of the Constitution (Article 73).
b) Constitution of the Republic of Serbia
The Constitution of Serbia is much more specific on local self-government. It distinguishes between autonomous provinces (Article 6) and self-governing municipalities (Article 7). Articles 108 to 112 concern the status of the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo. Articles 113 to 118 concern local self-government proper. Article 113 goes into the powers of the municipalities in some detail; they include: enactment of the development programme and the town and country plan; regulation and use of urban construction sites and administrative and business premises; construction and maintenance of local roads and streets and other public facilities of local interest; catering for the needs of citizens in the fields of culture, education, health and social welfare, child welfare, physical education, public information, handicrafts, tourism and environmental protection. The Constitution stipulates that the system of local self-government is laid down by law, as are the revenues to which the municipalities are entitled. The possibility of raising funds by voluntary contribution is also enshrined in Article 114. Article 115 provides for municipal assemblies to adopt their own statutes. Article 117 makes a distinction between municipalities and cities, and Article 118 covers the special status of Belgrade. The Constitution also provides for the Republic to delegate certain powers by law to the municipalities in general or to one municipality in particular.
These provisions of the 1990 Constitution seem to express the desire to move away from the socialist idea of local authorities as mere organs of central government. The municipalities are acknowledged as the expression of local self-government. Article 7 stipulates that “the municipality is a territorial unit in which local self-government is exercised”.
Article 113 para. 5 of the Constitution, concerning the powers of the municipalities, grants them general powers to deal with matters of interest to local citizens. Acknowledgment of legislative power to define the main rules in respect of local self-government, particularly the powers and resources of the municipalities, is in principle a major guarantee of the independence of local self-government in respect of the central government, provided that the State does not have excessive power over parliament. The Constitution acknowledges the municipalities’ power of self-organisation by granting them the right to adopt their own statutes. Article 116 provides for local referendums and Article 106 for municipal assemblies to be composed of councillors elected by secret ballot on the basis of direct universal suffrage.
These constitutional provisions prompt no particular criticism and constitute a perfectly acceptable basis, even though local self-government could be better guaranteed by more specific provisions concerning, for example, the scope of municipal powers, their resources and the types of remedy possible in the event of failure to comply fully with the provisions of the Constitution. Those involved in local government in Serbia consider that the Constitution should provide stronger guarantees for local autonomy. Reference to the law, ie to parliament, to protect local self-government is not enough when parliament and the government are part of the same authoritarian central seat of power, as was the case from 1990 to 2000. Another object of criticism is the fact that the Constitution does not provide sufficient guarantees concerning municipal property.
With these provisos it seems possible to improve local democracy significantly without previously amending the Constitution. In formal terms the Serbian Constitution may be considered to comply with Article 2 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which stipulates that “the principle of local self-government shall be recognised in domestic legislation and, where practicable, in the Constitution”.
2. Provision in the law for the general principles of local self-government
Article 1 of the current law on local self-government (11 November 1999) stipulates that local self-government is exercised in the municipalities, the cities and the city of Belgrade. Article 2 provides for citizens to determine the responsibilities of local government through their elected representatives, by referendum and by popular initiative. Local authority organisation is determined by the statutes and other acts adopted by the local authorities themselves (Article 3). Under Article 5 local authorities are independent in the exercise of their powers. Local authority boundaries are established in Article 16, and the authorities have legal status (Article 17) based on their statutes (Article 9). Furthermore, the general provisions of the 1991 law have remained in force. Taken together these provisions seem to add up to an acceptable definition of local self-government under Article 3 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. While the exact details are open to debate, nothing essential is missing. Article 4 defines a number of powers of local authorities which, if the law is properly implemented, cover a substantial share of public affairs.
The successive laws and draft laws on local self-government in Serbia have all been marked, however, by certain methodological shortcomings which are probably a sign that the Yugoslav authorities have not yet fully assimilated all the consequences of the legal guarantees offered to local authorities. The laws often fail to cover the practical aspects of local self-government and frequently remain rather vague, with the result that they do not make it clear exactly what powers and obligations local authorities have. Furthermore, they constantly refer to the provisions of other texts, existing or, more often than not, yet to be introduced, undermining the legal certainty and clarity of the rights and obligations concerned. The draft law of 20 June 2001 is no exception. A law on local self-government should be a clear, precise, stable charter for local authorities, such that all the interested parties (State, local authorities and citizens) know exactly who is responsible for what. In particular it is regrettable that many provisions of the present law or the new draft law contain sundry references to “the law” the meaning of which is not clear. For example “in the manner established by the law”, “in accordance with the law” or “in conformity with the law”, found in the English-language version: do these phrases mean in a lawful manner (in which case they are superfluous as all public authorities must abide by the law)? Or do they mean subject to the existence of a law on the question, ie subject to a law being passed in the future? When drafting laws, compliance with all other legislation, present or future, should be taken for granted. If what is meant is that the powers bestowed by the legislative provision concerned may be exercised only subject to further legislation being passed at a later stage, it should be left to the subsequent legislation to deal with the subject in full. Laws should aim to be applicable immediately, clearly defining the scope and limits of the powers they grant. Local authorities must be able to ascertain exactly what their powers and obligations are simply by reading the law.
3. Level and organisation of local self-government
a) Distinction between municipalities and cities – special status of Belgrade
- The “municipality” is the ordinary local authority, corresponding to communities of average size, which in this case is fairly large (about 50,000 inhabitants on average).
- “Cities” are larger communities and there are four of them. Article 175 of the 1999 law describes the city as a local authority established by law and comprising two or more municipalities. Article 176 adds that cities have the same general resources as municipalities, but that they are entitled to keep 10% of the business tax collected within their boundaries (compared with 5% for the municipalities). The city is composed of an assembly, an executive council, an administrative body and any other body provided for in its statute (Article 177). City statutes determine which powers are exercised at the level of the whole city and which are exercised at the level of the member municipalities.
It would seem, therefore, that the law provides for a two-tier local authority system in the four largest cities in Serbia, but leaves it up to the statutes of the cities themselves to decide how power is shared between the two levels. The cities do not appear to have any powers which the municipalities do not have. Special powers may, on the other hand, be delegated out to them by central government.
This distinction between cities and municipalities seems not to raise any particular problems or criticisms.
- Articles 183 and ff. of the 1999 law concern the city of Belgrade but introduce no particularly original rules that do not apply to the other cities, except that Belgrade is entitled to 15% of business tax revenues instead of 10%. No special powers seem to have been conferred on the city.
b) Protection of the existence and the boundaries of local authorities
- Local authority structure continues to be regulated by Articles 1 to 7 and 9 to 11a of the Law of 15 July 1991, under which municipalities are established by law and can merge or transfer part of their territory to another municipality only with the consent of their respective assemblies. Provided that these provisions are properly applied, they are a satisfactory guarantee of the geographical boundaries of local authorities for the purposes, in particular, of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
- There seems to be no real need at present to alter the territorial organisation of the local authorities, their boundaries or their number. Discussions on this subject showed that possible changes in the territorial structure of municipalities would be limited to some isolated cases (and would concern, in particular, the town of Nis).
4. Powers of the municipalities
a) General observations
Article 22 of the law of 1991 defines the powers of the municipalities in terms almost identical to those of the Constitution, ie in very general terms. By contrast, the new law of 1999 defines the powers of local authorities in much greater detail (Articles 18 to 43). However, the new law seems to make no substantial changes to the powers attributed to the local authorities. If anything the aim of the more detailed law seems to have been to limit or restrict their responsibilities. The new draft law of June 2001 defines the powers of local authorities in broader terms again, but largely in a similarly restrictive spirit.
The problem of local authority powers lies less in their theoretical scope, which is quite wide, than in their effective implementation, which seems limited considering the meagre means at their disposal. Furthermore, no distinction is made between the minimum or mandatory responsibilities they must assume come what may and those which are optional and subject to resource availability. Finally, the line between the powers of the State and those of the local authorities remains unclear, so it is not always easy to determine where the powers of the State end and those of the local authorities begin.
Some of the powers attributed to the local authorities are clearly theoretical and do not correspond to any practical reality. The situation cannot be improved simply by rewriting the law on local self-government. Whatever its imperfections, the law is good enough to provide an acceptable basis for local authority action in a variety of fields. The problem is how to make sure the local authorities have sufficient means to finance their action and avoid any de facto direct or undue control, interference or substitution on the part of the State.
It should also be noted that the law distinguishes between powers specific to local authorities and those delegated to them by the Republic, a distinction also made in the European Charter of Local Self-Government and in many other countries, which is perfectly acceptable in principle. The specific powers are those which concern the essential functions of local self-government, over which local authorities have full, exclusive control. Delegated powers are those normally incumbent on the State but which the State delegates out to the local authorities to exercise under its instruction and supervision. Here the local authorities do not have full control over the measures taken; they are an instrument of central government action. The main difficulty raised by this distinction lies in the distribution of powers between the two types of authority. Responsibility for matters of local interest should lie squarely with the local authorities and not be delegated to them by the State.
Subject to these reservations, let us take a closer look at the powers of local authorities.
b) Powers specific to the municipalities
- Urban planning and construction: local authorities are responsible for urban planning, supervising construction and designating building sites; they are also responsible for public utilities and housing. This is a major responsibility and it is a good thing that Serbian law places it in the hands of the local authorities. However, the law does not specify whether the local authorities have full responsibility and can, for example, draw up binding urban plans and issue building permits without the de facto supervision of central government.
- Public services: municipalities are responsible for providing public services; Article 23 of the law seems to refer to the various network and mains services, which local authorities can contract out to firms;
- public thoroughfares, squares and transport: the municipalities are responsible for the maintenance of local streets and roads and for authorising the laying of new roads, as well as for organising public transport and taxi services;
- culture: the municipalities protect the local cultural heritage, organise cultural events and run municipal libraries and local cultural facilities;
- education: the municipalities build and maintain primary and secondary schools, provide school supplies, lay on transport for the children, cater for pupils with disabilities, help train teachers;
- health: the municipalities supervise citizens’ health, organise home care for the elderly, people with disabilities and children in difficulty, build welfare facilities, and run pre-school establishments;
- sport: the municipalities build and maintain school sports facilities and help organise sporting events;
- tourism, catering, crafts: the municipalities promote local tourism;
- environment: the municipalities take steps to protect the soil and underground and surface water; they regulate the protection of lakes and spring water; they provide mains water, determine atmospheric pollution emission limit levels, take anti-pollution measures and publish information on the quality of the air. They also take steps to protect domestic animals and have responsibilities in the field of animal husbandry.
It remains unclear whether the municipalities have real policing and regulatory powers in environmental matters. They probably have the administrative machinery necessary to carry out their duties in an intensive manner.
- public information: the municipalities keep the public informed about matters of local interest;
- disaster relief: they assess danger, take preventive action and determine what action to take to minimise the consequences of disasters;
- legal assistance: the municipalities can organise legal assistance services for their citizens.
All these powers must generally be exercised “in conformity with the law”. As was mentioned earlier, it is not quite clear whether this means that the authorities must act within the confines of laws governing the various activities concerned or whether they simply have to assume their responsibilities in a law-abiding manner. If the latter is what is meant, it is a statement of the obvious and quite unnecessary. If the former is the correct interpretation, the list of municipal responsibilities is largely an illusion. According to certain well-informed sources, many of the powers listed above do not exist in practice. This does not mean that there is no provision for them in the law.
c) Responsibilities delegated to the municipalities by the State
Articles 44 and ff. of the law of 1999 provide for the possibility of the municipalities being asked to take on responsibilities normally incumbent on the State. This does not apply to all municipalities. The capacity of the municipalities concerned may be taken into account. The financial cost of the operations thus delegated must be calculated and the corresponding funds allocated to the local authorities.
All in all the powers delegated out to the municipalities in Serbia are quite substantial and relevant. The real problems lie elsewhere, however, and cannot be solved simply by amending the law. Serbia is experiencing serious problems of poverty among part of the population, not to mention having to repair the damage wrought by war. The municipalities are often in the front line when it comes to catering for the public’s needs. People expect them to take action they are not in a position to take. This is all the more patent in that under the pre-1989 regime the municipalities provided many services in the fields of health, education, housing and welfare. In the face of dwindling local authority resources it is not surprising that the maintenance of certain public facilities and the functioning of certain services are no longer up to standard.
d) Specific problems facing municipalities
- the local police are at present under the authority not of the municipalities but of central government. The draft law envisages giving the municipalities certain police responsibilities but only as a delegated activity. It should be noted that security is a serious problem in Serbia.
- The powers of the State and those of the municipalities are sometimes closely intertwined. Water supply, for example, is the responsibility of urban distribution firms, while hot water and heating are supplied by the districts, which are State-controlled, and waste water disposal is the responsibility of the municipal authorities.
- The use of municipal firms to provide a number of services is fairly widespread in Serbia. Bringing in private firms to compete for water service contracts seems rather a difficult solution.
- A certain form of municipal property seems to have existed until 1997, when a law on property belonging to the Republic of Serbia transferred much of this property to the State. This has caused the municipalities substantial difficulties and increased their dependence on the State. Rent from publicly owned office buildings, for example, is collected by the State as the buildings belong to the State (1993 law on public revenues and expenditure), whereas the local authorities are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings. Only a modest share of the revenue generated by this public property is redistributed by the State to the local authorities. The problem needs to be resolved as a matter of priority if efficient local self-government is to be restored.
5. Local finance
This question is dealt with in a fairly detailed manner by Articles 46 to 79 of the law of 1999. The logic is quite difficult to follow. While certain resources are made available to the municipalities, Article 49 provides for a general ceiling to be placed on these resources.
Municipalities have the following tax revenues: tax on revenues from forestry and fishing, 5% of personal income tax, tax on donations, death duties, taxes on the transfer of property and rights in rem, agricultural land tax, 25% of taxes on other types of property, a proportion of the business tax ranging from 5 to 15%, a share of rates that remains to be determined by another law, fees for the use of municipal property, taxes on gaming machines, taxes on shop signs, parking spaces, camp sites, domestic animals, etc. The municipalities can also levy voluntary contributions. As revenues from these taxes are insufficient to cover their needs, the municipalities also receive subsidies from the State. It is widely believed that these resources are insufficient and that until recently they were too tightly controlled by central government, which for a long time adjusted its funding depending on the political colouring of the municipalities. This unpredictability made it impossible for municipalities to plan their budgets from one year to the next. Generally speaking the budgets are very small.
In view of the extremely difficult situation in Serbia in general, it is hardly surprising that the municipalities too should be in difficult financial straits. It would nevertheless appear necessary that they should have access to sufficient resources to perform their duties in a genuinely independent manner. The solution of giving them a fixed percentage of certain taxes is an appropriate one, but they should also be allowed to fix certain tax rates so that they have some influence over their resources. The draft law published in 2001 does not seem to introduce any major changes to the present system.
6. The organs of municipal government
The main organ is the municipal assembly, which is elected by universal suffrage, whose powers call for no particular comment (see Articles 80 and ff. of the law of 1999). What counts is the composition of the executive and its relationship with the assembly. The law now in force provides for the president of the assembly to be appointed and dismissed by the assembly, as are the vice-president of the assembly, the chair and members of the executive body and the secretary. The executive takes the form of an executive council whose chair and members may also be members of the municipal assembly. They supervise administrative work at the local level. The secretary of the municipal assembly co-ordinates the work of the municipal authority, which has its own powers, listed in Article 94.
This system of municipal organisation seems to raise no problems in respect of the principles enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
According to the law the executive is subordinate to the assembly, but observers indicate that in practice the executive councils have a decisive influence in the running of municipal government. This is linked to the influence of the parties and the way in which managers are appointed. Assembly members follow their parties’ instructions, which reduces the possibility of open debate in the assembly. All in all the system is not very transparent. Functions are not really personalised. The president of the assembly does not necessarily chair the executive council (this is even quite rare). The proposed reforms would introduce a clear separation between the mayor and the assembly and perhaps direct election of the mayor by universal suffrage.
There is also the question of the availability of competent, well-trained, reliable and politically impartial municipal staff.
A certain management tradition exists, but staff need further training in order to adjust to new management conditions.
7. Administrative supervision of municipalities
Article 11 of the law of 1999 confirms the ministers’ right of administrative supervision of municipal authorities. The form the supervision takes is described in relative detail in Articles 203 to 213 of the law of 1999. These provisions are much stricter than those of the 1991 law, but it is possible that they were already included in the 1993 law on State administration.
The comments made by local authority leaders on Articles 203 and ff. of the law of 1999 present these provisions as an instrument of a priori supervision and large-scale intervention by central government in the running of municipal affairs. Legal analysis of the articles concerned paints a less dramatic picture. The supervisory powers they impart concern compliance with the law in municipal dealings and take the form of an appeal to the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court by the minister responsible for local authorities. Pending the court’s ruling, the minister can suspend the litigious decision. In the case of decisions concerning individuals, the minister can annul any unlawful measures and take the action the municipality should legally have taken in its stead. Finally, the government has the power to dissolve a municipal assembly that refuses to do its duty. Legally these supervisory powers do not concern expediency and therefore do not contravene Article 8 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. However, some of the provisions for central government intervention are worded in such general terms that they could give rise to abuses. Two examples are Article 211, under which central government can step in if the local authority fails to fulfil any of the tasks incumbent on it, and Article 213, on the dissolution of the assembly if it takes action against the general interest. A power of dissolution on such vague grounds represents a particular threat to local democracy. It is essential that local authorities should be able to appeal this type of central government supervisory measure.
8. Legal protection of local self-government
Articles 214 and 215 settle this question by providing for the right of recourse to judicial remedy before the Constitutional Court. The value of this protection depends on the impartiality of the Constitutional Court and on the effectiveness of the appeals submitted to it. According to sources of information in Serbia, there are doubts concerning the impartiality of the Constitutional Court. If confidence is to be restored between the local authorities and central government, an appeal body which is genuinely impartial and recognised as such is needed. After the change of government in 2000 it may prove difficult to find such guarantees of acknowledged impartiality in Serbia’s judicial system. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court is not necessarily the most appropriate court to deal with questions concerning relations between municipalities and central government. One solution would be to set up a new administrative court specialised in administrative law and composed of new staff recruited on terms acceptable both to municipalities and to central government.
9. Inter-municipal co-operation
This is covered briefly in the 1999 law and also in the draft law of 2001. Article 10 of the 1999 law stipulates that municipalities may co-operate in implementing their development plans and programmes to cater for the needs of the community by pooling their resources or services.
The same article provides for municipalities to form associations and join international organisations of local authorities, and to co-operate with local authorities in other regions.
It is to be hoped that the provisions of the new law currently in preparation will not be more restrictive (the text now circulating seems to contain restrictions insofar as it subjects international co-operation by Serbia’s municipalities to national policy directives).
10. Provincial level
The existence of the two autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo is mentioned in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia (Article 108 and ff.). Article 108 of the Constitution stipulates that “the territory of an autonomous province shall be determined by law”. Their boundaries are defined in Articles 14 and 15 of the law of 1991. It is also for the law to determine the conditions in which the citizens of the autonomous provinces exercise their rights and duties as such. Article 109 of the Constitution provides for the province to adopt a budget and an annual balance sheet, and to implement an economic, scientific, etc development programme and adopt the requisite measures for its implementation. The province may take steps to regulate questions of interest to the citizens of the autonomous province in the fields of culture, education, official use of languages, public information, health and social welfare, child welfare, environmental protection and spatial planning. Many of these areas are also covered by the municipalities and there is no clear indication of how these powers are distributed between the municipalities and the provinces. The autonomous provinces may also be granted special powers by law. The law determines their revenues and, under the Constitution, the provinces themselves define their statutes and organs. This is the task of the provincial assembly, subject, however, to the prior agreement of the national assembly.
These provisions do not explain the effective powers of the provinces. The law does not define them in any greater detail. In the case of Kosovo, of course, these provisions no longer apply. As for the province of Vojvodina, it would appear in practice that while, under the 1974 Constitution, it enjoyed a very large degree of autonomy, it lost its powers in 1990. Its budget is apparently now so limited that it barely covers the provincial assembly’s operating costs.
A plan to increase the importance of the provincial level is envisaged in the context of regionalisation, but the draft law of June 2001 does not address the issue. No prior amendment of the Constitution would appear necessary in order to implement genuine provincial self-government as the Constitution is fairly broad in that respect.
Strengthening the provincial level would probably be a positive step for Serbia. It would make it possible to deal with Vojvodina province’s specific situation, but the division of powers between the provincial and municipal levels would have to be clearly defined.
IV. THE LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT IN MONTENEGRO
The 1974 Constitution of the Republic of Montenegro (Article 64), amended in 1991, and the new Constitution of 1992, refer to the principle of local self-government and to citizens’ right to manage local affairs in this way.
Following a centralisation phase concomitant with the change of regions in 1991, a gradual decentralisation trend set in. In 1992 a decree, and subsequently a law, transferred powers from the State to the municipalities. The municipal law of 1991 was reformed in 1995, with the introduction of amendments to strengthen the powers of the local authorities, but it was generally felt that this law still failed to provide a satisfactory legislative basis for decentralisation. Since 1998 plans for a new law on municipal authorities have been in preparation. The work, in co-operation with the municipalities and their association, should be completed in 2002.
The law of 14 July 1995 on local government in Montenegro basically resembles Serbia’s law on local authorities. In some respects it can be considered clearer and more logical.
The main differences between the laws of Serbia and Montenegro are:
1. Powers of the municipalities
Their powers are basically the same in Serbia and Montenegro, but in Montenegro the law refers to municipal powers of economic intervention which are not mentioned so explicitly in Serbian law. Article 17 para. 6 of the law of 14 July 1995 stipulates that the municipality can issue authorisations to run independent shops and firms and licences to open video film copy and rental businesses and to make copies of video tapes.
As in Serbia, the law does not explain exactly what powers the municipalities have over private individuals, and in particular under what circumstances they can issue regulations, authorisations or bans affecting private individuals. Montenegrin law, or at least its English translation, does not distinguish clearly between the mandatory and optional activities of municipalities. Finally, as in Serbian law, there is no clear-cut distinction between the powers of the republic and those of the local authorities. Montenegrin law does stipulate, however, that the role of the municipalities in education and the appointment of school staff is a purely consultative one.
2. Organisation of the executive
Montenegrin law provides for mayors to be elected by the municipal council. The mayor has full responsibility for the executive. On one or two points, however, relations between the mayor and the municipal council are rather ambiguous insofar as the mayor chairs the council. Also, the deputies who support and stand in for the mayor are appointed by the municipal council. As under Serbian law, there is a secretary of the assembly responsible for organising the assembly’s work and co-ordinating it with that of the executive. The division of powers between the mayor and the secretary concerned may raise problems. The mayor can be dismissed by the municipal council by a vote of no-confidence. Provisions of the draft law currently under discussion aim at clarifying relations between the executive and the municipal assembly by providing for the mayor to be directly elected by the people and for the municipal assembly to be chaired by a president other than the mayor.
3. Municipal finance
The law on municipalities simply refers to special laws which should stipulate what share of tax revenues should go to the municipalities. This question is settled by the law on public resources, which assigns a share of certain taxes to the municipalities of Montenegro (15% of income tax, 50% of property taxes, 50% of the tax on real estate transfers, 100% of inheritance tax, etc). On average these taxes make up about one-third of municipal authority resources. In addition they receive fees for the supply of services and subsidies from the State. They may also raise funds through “voluntary contributions”. There is no denying that these resources are insufficient, but in view of the general lack of public funds there seems to be no simple solution. The overall structure of the tax system is in the balance, certain forms of taxation being highly unpopular. There is also the question of the tax collection system: it is not advisable for both the State and the municipalities to develop their own tax collection departments.
4. Administrative supervision of municipalities in Montenegro
The government has a right of administrative supervision. It may suspend the execution of municipality decisions pending the ruling of the Constitutional Court. It can also dissolve the assembly if it refuses to fulfil its legal duties. When this happens, the mayor’s term of office also expires. The government then appoints a three-member committee to handle municipal affairs in the interim, following the dissolution of the assembly. Central government’s powers of supervision also include suspension and substitution measures in matters where individual liberties are at stake. Finally, ministries may issue instructions to municipalities in the form of legal guidance (Article 72).
All these measures could, in certain cases, go beyond the simple supervision of compliance with the law required under the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and deserve to be toned down on certain points, such as the power of the ministries to issue instructions to local authorities, which undermines local authority power.
Provision is made for the municipalities to appeal to the Constitutional Court when the State oversteps its powers in respect of local self-government. It is important that this right be effectively exercised.
5. Territorial units
Differences between territorial units in Montenegro are much more marked than in Serbia, in terms of both the number of inhabitants per km2 and the financial resources available to the municipalities. This has raised the question of a possible review of municipal boundaries, either by joining some of them together or by strengthening inter-municipal co-operation. At present all municipalities have the same status. It is planned in future to provide for different degrees of protection of their administrative management capacity, and to take into account the special roles of the present and historical capitals.
6. Municipal staff
The municipalities of Montenegro are relatively well-staffed, by about 2000 people in all, ie one local government officer for 300 inhabitants (compared with an international average of the order of one for every 500 inhabitants), with a generally high level of education (one-third have a university education). They need further training, however, to adjust to their new working conditions.
7. Municipalities and protection of minorities
Montenegro has its share of cultural minorities. Cohabitation is peaceful and the special needs of minorities are already partially catered for. One example is the use of minority languages in municipal institutions. There is still room for improvement, however, for example in access for members of minorities to municipal posts, particularly by recognition of diplomas acquired outside the Republic.
In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia local democracy is still “in transition”. The change of regime in 1990 paradoxically resulted in the introduction of genuine local authorities and increased centralisation, linked inter alia to political circumstances but also to the general reorganisation of the State. The need for stronger local self-government is now generally recognised, however, and steps have already been taken in this direction, by pragmatically restoring to the municipalities certain powers which had been taken from them in the last ten years. The reform process is still in progress, however.
The process seems more advanced in Montenegro, where the law on municipalities was revised in 1995, making it more liberal, and where a broad discussion on municipal reform has been in progress since 1998, in a spirit of co-operation between central government and the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro. In Serbia the review process is more recent; a preliminary draft law has been presented for public discussion. This is to be welcomed, even if simply updating the law on local authorities will have only a limited impact on their real powers. The law is merely a legal instrument; it is important, but is in itself not sufficient.
What is needed is a transfer of responsibility from central to local government. This means transferring legal powers, financial resources and administrative back-up (staff, equipment, public property). Wherever such transfers have taken place, it has proved to be a delicate and complex process involving numerous parameters. In the case of Serbia and Montenegro attention should be draw in particular to the following points:
- The drafting of legal provisions concerning the powers of local authorities: such provisions should make it perfectly clear exactly what powers local authorities have, their scope and their limits, whether they are mandatory or optional, the prerogatives or obligations attached to them in respect of other administrative authorities and the general public, and how these powers dovetail with those of other public authorities.
- Local finance: as citizens’ power to contribute is limited, there is no point in simply granting municipalities the right to levy new taxes in addition to those already collected by the State. The reform of local finance should include the genuine transfer of existing resources from the State to the local authorities.
- Where there is a transfer of responsibilities it is unrealistic to expect the municipalities to set up the corresponding services and recruit staff from scratch while the departments and staff previously responsible for the activities concerned remain idle. A proper administrative reshuffle is therefore necessary, including both the State, particularly at district level, and the local authorities, with support measures for the staff concerned.
- No local authority can be effective if it does not have the necessary infrastructure. Reorganising public property and dividing it more evenly between central and local government is therefore an essential aspect of the reform. Article 73 of the federal Constitution should not be regarded as an obstacle to this redistribution.
- In parallel with the municipal reform process, thought should be given to responsibilities of a supra-municipal nature which should not necessarily be entrusted to central government (what one might call regional powers), in connection, in particular, with efforts to strengthen inter-municipal co-operation.
- The question of local public enterprises also needs careful examination, as this is a key area where performance must be improved by clarifying the scope of public supervision and opening the field to competition.
- Finally, at all times the main concern must be to improve the service supplied to the citizen. Accordingly, elected representatives should put supervising resource use, assessing service quality, citizen participation and the transparency of administrative services before party politics.
These are difficult but necessary objectives. although the events which have marked Yugoslavia in the past ten years have been a handicap, Serbia and Montenegro do have the advantage of having a large number of well-trained administrative staff. The high expectations of the citizens should also be a stimulus. Finally, it is to be hoped that the conviction that local self-government has an essential part to play in the reorganisation of the country is now strong enough to overcome the obstacles.
Summary of the statement made by Mr Dusan Protic, Deputy Minister of Justice on the dismissal of local assemblies in some municipalities within the Republic of Serbia.
Document provided by the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade
In accordance with Article 159 of the Law on Local Self-Government, the Serbian Government, until now, have appointed so-called “municipal councils” in ten municipalities, according to the list attached to this document. This Article authorises the Government to dismiss local assemblies if they have not organised any elections or not created any local bodies during the 60 days following elections. In seven of these municipalities, the Government applied this Article, after in-depth analyses, which showed that no municipal bodies had been created. The last three cases relate to three municipalities in Kosovo, where local elections were not held in September 2000. According to Article 224, local elections in these municipalities will be held after the completion of the UNMIK mission. Given that those municipalities are almost exclusively populated by Serbs and that the old local authorities are still in place (elected in 1996) it was considered unacceptable to tolerate a situation where non-elected local authorities have budgets and represent the interests of the general public. Therefore, in those three municipalities, the Government appointed the members of the municipal councils (who are almost the same as those appointed by UNMIK)
Besides this decision, the Serbian Government decided, in 12 other cases, on the dismissal of local assemblies and appointment of municipal councils, in compliance with Article 213 of the Law according to which such a measure is necessary when a local assembly or another body does not work more than three months or if it acts against the constitutional and legal rights of citizens or against general interests. In these municipalities, there are two types of problems present: firstly, a complete block on activities which violate the rights and interests of citizens (in Kladovo, Lebane and in other municipalities); secondly, a majority of the members of the assemblies have resigned. Although these measures were applied by the Government without prior warning (contrary to what was foreseen by the Law) as they did not think that a prior warning was necessary because local authorities were not functioning and were unable to make any decisions.
Bearing in mind that these municipalities needed urgent regularisation of their local authorities, the Ministry of Justice and Local Self-Government called, several times, on the President of the Parliament of Serbia to make a decision on local elections related to these communities. It was decided to schedule local elections for 4 November of this year.
According to the Law, municipalities have a right to appeal against such decisions to the Supreme Court of Serbia and some have used this right.
In conclusion, the Ministry underlines that they made such a decision because of a real necessity and not for political reasons. This could be proved by the fact that the Ministry refused claims for similar measures in other municipalities and have good co-operation with the municipalities who are functioning well (including those ruled by SPS). The final conclusion of the Deputy Minister of Justice is that the above-mentioned measures were applied on a restricted basis and were due to current transitional problems.
Municipalities where the Ministry dismissed local assemblies and appointed municipal committees:
Name: Date: Article of Law (applied)
Bosilegrad 20.02.2001 159
Batocina 29.02.2001 159
Kladovo 6.03.2001 213, para. 2
Lajkovac 30.03.2001 159
Zubin Potok (Kosovo) 30.03.2001 159
Zvecan (Kosovo) 30.03.2001 159
Lebane 5.04.2001 213 paras. 1 and 2
Leposavic (Kosovo) 5.04.2001 159
Irig (Voivodina) 19.04.2001 159
Bela Palanka 19.04.2001 159
Knjazevac 19.04.2001 213
Titel (Voivodina) 9.05.2001 159
Aleksinac 9.05.2001 213, para. 2
Zitiste (Voivodina) 9.05.2001 159
Cicevac 9.05.2001 213 para. 2
Negotin 9.05.2001 213 paras. 1 and 2
Majdanpek 9.05.2001 213 para. 2
Petrovac na Mlavi 29.05.2001 213 para. 2
Kursumlija 5.06.2001 213 para. 2
Dimitrovgrad 3.07.2001 213 para. 2
Crna Trava 17.07.2001 213 para. 2
Despotovac 4.10.2001 213 para. 2
Local elections on the 4 of November 2001 were held in:
Irig Petrovac na Mlavi
Bela Palanka Kursumlija
Titel Crna Trava
Municipalities in which elections were not held:
Type of electoral system:
One round electoral majority. In some municipalities elections could be repeated because of technical irregularities, but there is no official confirmation of this.
13 June 2001
Preparation of the report on the situation of Local and Regional democracy in the federal Republic of Yugoslavia - 14-15 June 2001
Composition of the delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
Mr Louis ROPPE (Belgium), President of the Committee of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Institutional Committee, Congress Rapporteur on local and regional democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Mr Owen MASTERS (United Kingdom), Congress Rapporteur on local and regional democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Mr Jean-Marie WOEHRLING, expert, Member of the Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government
Mr Ulrich BOHNER, Deputy-Head of the Congress Secretariat
Mr François FRIEDERICH, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General
Ms Sylvie AFFHOLDER, Congress Secretariat (tel : + 33.6.07.03.06.15)
* * * * *
28 September 2001
Preparation of the report on the situation of Local and Regional democracy in the federal Republic of Yugoslavia
24-29 September 2001
Composition of the delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe
Mr Louis ROPPE (Belgium), President of the Committee of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Institutional Committee, Congress Rapporteur on local and regional democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Mr Jean-Marie WOEHRLING, expert, Member of the Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government
Mr Ulrich BOHNER
Deputy-Head of the Congress Secretariat
Ms Sylvie AFFHOLDER
Mr Aleksandar STOJANOVIC, Legal Advisor, Council of Europe Office in Belgrade (for the meetings in Serbia)
Mrs Eva KOPROLIN, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Podgorica (for the meetings in Montenegro)