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Montenegrin academicians at loggerheads

Posted on behalf of Mico Tatalovic.

Members of Montenegro’s unofficial science academy, the Doclean Academy of Sciences and Arts (DANU), got a nasty surprise this week.

In March, the country’s parliament mandated that DANU should merge with the official academy, the Montenegrin Academy of Science and Arts (CANU), in an effort to unite the country’s scientific potential. The two academies have historically been divided along political and ideological lines.

But on 14 May, only 5 out of 29 DANU members were elected to CANU — and even those only as associate and foreign members.

DANU was established in 1998 as part of the Montenegrin national renaissances that led to its independence from Serbia in 2006. CANU was set up in 1971, when Montenegro was one of the republics in former Yugoslavia.

CANU members have opposed the merger — which effectively forces them to admit verified DANU members to their academy — arguing that it undermines their autonomy from government. CANU challenged the law in the constitutional court and also instituted a new procedure that puts members of DANU through a rigorous selection process instead of simply admitting them, as the law mandates.

Both DANU and the government’s science ministry have deemed this new procedure illegal, and this case is also being fought in the constitutional court. DANU members will probably have to wait for rulings from both of these cases to know whether or not they can join the country’s official academy.

“Decisions made at the CANU assembly on 14 May will not be valid, because their procedures do not call for verification of DANU members, but instead an election of new members,” Milena Milunović, an aide at the science ministry told Pobjeda newspaper earlier this month. The ministry declined to comment further until the court ruling is out.

DANU issued a statement calling CANU’s most recent decision “illegitimate and against the law”. Meanwhile, CANU spokesperson Marina Vukičević told Nature that the election of DANU members was done according to a procedure laid down in the new law, and not according to CANU’s disputed new procedure, and is therefore legitimate.

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