On 1 January 2019, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania took over the presidency of the Association of Constitutional Justice of the Countries of the Baltic and Black Sea Regions (hereinafter referred to as the BBCJ or the Association). The Association was established on the initiative of the Constitutional Court of Moldova and the Constitutional Court of Lithuania following the signing of the Declaration on the Establishment of the BBCJ on 26 October 2015 in Vilnius. The Declaration underlines the role of constitutional courts in ensuring the supremacy of the constitution in the legal system, constitutional justice, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, and declares the commitment to respect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of states. The Declaration was signed by the Presidents of the Constitutional Courts of Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine. In 2018, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland joined the BBCJ.
“By establishing this association, the constitutional courts resolved not to be indifferent to the challenges that our countries face: challenges to the rule of law, international law, and the independence and security of our states. Based on our common experience, we understand the tradition of the rule of law as inseparable from the idea of the freedom of both people and the nation. The background to the establishment of the BBCJ was the Batumi initiative, which essentially involved condemning the opinion of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation of 19 March 2014, which opened the way for the annexation of part of the territory of Ukraine – Crimea. It has to be acknowledged that attempts to influence the constitutional courts of various countries still occur and threats to the rule of law have been faced more than once, which makes it evident that the activities of the BBCJ are important and its enlargement is inevitable”, stressed the President of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania, Dainius Žalimas.
Only the constitutional courts or other constitutional justice institutions of sovereign states of the Baltic and Black Sea regions of the European Union or its Eastern Partnership that are willing and able to contribute to achieving the aims of the BBCJ may become members of the Association.
The activities of the BBCJ are carried out by the General Assembly and the Secretary General. The General Assembly is composed of the presidents or delegated representatives of constitutional courts or other constitutional justice institutions that are members of the BBCJ. Having convened on 25 October 2018 in Vilnius and taking into account the enlargement of the BBCJ and seeking the more effective dissemination of information about the activities of the Association, the General Assembly specified the Statute of the BBCJ in greater detail and agreed on the ways of sharing information.
The General Assembly is convened by the President of the BBCJ at least once a year. The presidency of the Association is held by the President of each member of the Association for a one-year term. The presidency rotates on the basis of the alphabetical order of the names of the states represented by the members of the Association. The presidency of the BBCJ was held by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova in 2016, by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in 2017, and by the Constitutional Court of Georgia in 2018. Consequently, in 2019, the presidency of the Association is held by the Constitutional Court of Lithuania.