DE RUEHPOD #0216/01 2341046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211046Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0912
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHPS/AMEMBASSY PRISTINA 0116
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0413
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0109
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 0185
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 0148
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 0034
RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA 0997 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PODGORICA 000216
DEPT OF JUSTICE FOR OPDAT
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: RLA'S ARRIVAL HIGHLIGHTS INTEREST IN FIGHT AGAINST CRIME AND
1. (U) Summary: A full week of press coverage dedicated the
initial visit of the Embassy's new Regional Legal Adviser (RLA)
to Montenegro, even in a slow news month, illustrates the
importance Montenegrins place on the country's struggle with
corruption, an issue that ranks at the top of all public opinion
polls. The media, opposition politicians, and government
officials all used the opportunity to speak out on the issue.
All spun the news of the RLA's arrival to best fit their own
message, but the overall implication was that the challenge of
curbing organized crime and corruption is a significant and
complex issue for Montenegro. End summary.
Widespread Press Coverage
2. (U) On August 13, all daily newspapers in Montenegro
announced that the U. S. Department of Justice, Criminal
Division, had selected Mr. Haub for the position of Resident
Legal Advisor (RLA) for Montenegro, a position which will
coordinate U.S. Government assistance connected with promoting
the rule of law in Montenegro. Under the headlines "Haub is
going after mafia," "Haub chasing criminals," the press reported
that Haub will work in partnership with Montenegrin judges,
prosecutors, and police to enhance their ability to prosecute
and adjudicate cases involving corruption, organized crime, and
3. (U) On August 14, press and TV stations continued to report
on the RLA's activities, noting that the RLA met with Deputy
Prime Minister Gordana Djurovic, Supreme Court President Vesna
Medenica, Chief State Prosecutor Ranka Carapic, and Minister of
Justice Miras Radovic. The GoM's press center released a
statement about the RLA's meeting with DPM Djurovic, and the
resulting press headlines included, "Haub is chasing big fish,"
and "Stronger against crime." Haub told Public Radio and
Television of Montenegro (RTCG) that there is an increase of
professionalism and efficiency in the Montenegrin judiciary and
that he is looking forward to working with prosecutors, judges,
and police to further develop Montenegro's system of justice.
Speaking about the chief challenges in the struggle against
corruption, Djurovic emphasized the importance of adopting the
(law on the) criminal procedure code and creating pre-conditions
for its full implementation, especially strengthening the state
prosecutor's capacities, and adopting the law on the prevention
of conflict of interest in performing public functions.
President of the Supreme Court Vesna Medenica told the local
press that she expects a lot of help from the RLA, saying that
the Montenegrin judiciary had a positive experience working with
the legal consultant at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. She
expects that the RLA will assist with organizing trainings for
addressing computer and financial crimes, improving the special
department for organized crime and corruption, and improving
technology used in war crimes trials.
Opposition Claim RLA Arrival as Evidence that GoM is Corrupt
4. (U) For the third straight day on August 15, local press
again carried headlines resulting from the RLA's arrival and
publicized meetings. Representatives from most opposition
parties in Montenegro reacted to the RLA's arrival to
Montenegro, saying that his presence indicates a high level of
corruption in Montenegro. They also said they hope the RLA
arrival will shake up criminal circles in Montenegro.
5. (SBU) Movement for Change (PZP) MP Branka Bosnjak told press
that simply the fact that the U.S. is offering assistance to
Montenegro for its fight against organized crime and corruption
PODGORICA 00000216 002 OF 002
demonstrates how alarming the situation in Montenegro is.
Socialist People's Party MP Vuksan Simonovic warned that
Montenegro's judicial system does not allow for any interference
from the international community in the jurisdiction of
Montenegro's state institutions. He welcomed, however, all
exchanges of experience and knowledge. Serb People's Party
(SNS) member Jovan Vucurovic said that he expects that the U.S.
prosecutor will remain objective despite possible temptations
that Montenegrin authorities might create. Vucurovic indicated
that the GoM could try to bribe or otherwise entice the RLA to
simply take the government at its word or look the other way,
and noted his hope that Haub would not fall victim to the GoM's
6. (SBU) The President of the Senate of the Association of
Lawyers of Montenegro Stanko Maric also warned the RLA about
taking the GoM at their word. Maric referred to the RLA's
remarks about the country's progress in its struggle against
crime and corruption as groundless, asking publicly to see the
documents on which he based his conclusion. Maric noted that
European Commission's assessments (which were fairly harsh),
based on research conducted on the ground, are totally
different. Maric said he does not see any reason for the RLA's
arrival if he is going to immediately conclude that significant
progress has already been made in the struggle against crime and
corruption. Maric, also, said that if the RLA is making
conclusions only on the basis of what he is told by the
Montenegrin officials, his next assessment could be even better
as in his opinion, the GoM will naturally continue to present a
7. (SBU) Despite the traditional lack of press topics in August,
the extensive coverage of the RLA's arrival indicates what a
significant issue crime and corruption are for Montenegrins, and
just how politically sensitive Mr. Haub's work here will be. For
the opposition it has provided an opportunity to criticize the
GoM for inaction on the issue, which plays well with the public.
Citizens typically put corruption on the top of their list of
complaints about their country's governance. The EU's last
report was fairly scathing with regard to GoM efforts to curb
corruption, so the RLA's arrival serves as a reminder to the
public that the international community, including the United
States, see organized crime and corruption as a challenge to
Montenegro's further development.
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