Transparency International (TI) will launch its annual regional meeting for Europe and Central Asia in Baku on Thursday May 31 with a high profile anti-corruption conference: “Combating Corruption and Reforming Institutions in Transition Economies”.
The conference brings together anti-corruption activists, including TI’s national chapters in the region, international experts and civil society leaders from around 40 countries in Europe and Central Asia, from Ireland to Mongolia. Speakers will include emblematic figures of reform in transition economies including former Romanian Justice Minister Monica Macovei and Polish economist Leszek Balcerowicz.
The TI conference, hosted by the Government of Azerbaijan and co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will serve as a platform for exchange on strategies for fighting corruption and an opportunity to discuss region-specific issues such as the challenges of transition and natural resource wealth. Azerbaijan, independent for over 15 years and with the world’s highest recorded GDP growth in 2006, symbolises the opportunities and challenges which face the region.
“An event such as this has the potential to push corruption further up the agenda of the host and neighbouring countries and give renewed momentum to existing reforms,” said Huguette Labelle, Transparency International Chair. Labelle, in Baku for the meeting, further stressed the importance of continuing anti-corruption reform efforts, saying, “Such reforms are never easy, and they do not happen overnight. That is why political will is absolutely essential.”
The conference will take place at Baku’s Gulustan Palace. The chair and members of the anti-corruption commission and the general prosecutor of Azerbaijan will speak, as will the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
Mr. Ramiz Mehdiyev, head of the Executive Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic and chair of the anti-corruption commission, said “Azerbaijan’s natural resource wealth represents a unique opportunity for modernising our economy and improving the welfare of our people, but we know that this dynamic also has its risks. This was a primary motivation for us to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and we were one of the first countries to do so. We invited Transparency International to hold its regional meeting in Baku because we want to energise our anti-corruption reforms and draw on TI’s considerable experience. Azerbaijan, having demonstrated political will to combat corruption, has managed to gain experience in this area.”
Commenting on the Government’s expressed support for fighting corruption, Rena Safaralieva, Executive Director of TI Azerbaijan said, “This is indeed a welcome development. We offer ourselves as a constructive partner, to assist with our expertise and to monitor progress towards achieving the anti-corruption goals the government has set for itself.”
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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