Civil society initiative ‘a sign of Serbia’s return to Europe’ - Miklos Marschall, Executive Director, Transparency International
A new country chapter was launched in Serbia today by Transparency International. "This initiative coincides with the welcome return of Serbia to the family of European democracies," said TI Executive Director for Central and Eastern Europe Miklos Marschall, speaking at the launch of Transparency Group of the European Movement in Serbia. "The country is undergoing exciting changes," he said, "and civil society organisations will play a key role in the fight against the corruption that was bred under the Milosevic regime."
Yugoslavia was ranked second worst out of 90 countries in Transparency International's 2000 Corruption Perceptions Index, and corruption remains a serious obstacle to foreign investment and loans. Meanwhile, the new government of Serbia has come under increasing pressure from all sides to bring the former ruling class to justice. Milosevic himself is now under investigation for alleged fraud, embezzlement of state funds and murder.
Transparency International's new Serbian chapter, which has grown out of the European Movement in Serbia, a local non-governmental organisation, was already working on anti-corruption programmes during the Milosevic regime. Just weeks after Milosevic was ousted, the group began an anti-corruption programme in the cities of Nis, Kikinda, and Cukarica to improve the functioning of municipal services and to introduce professional budgeting and public procurement procedures, which will be so essential to Serbia's democratic transition.
Transparency International Serbia will continue its anti-corruption efforts at the municipal level. The new chapter has also been asked by the government to assist in the drafting of a national anti-corruption programme.
Transparency International has chapters in more than 75 countries, and its activities are growing rapidly in south-eastern Europe. On 23 February, a new chapter was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In December 2000, Transparency International Bulgaria monitored the public auction of the second GSM mobile phone license, an auction considered to have been the most transparent public bidding process in the region. TI Croatia is working with the Ministry of Justice on the draft of a conflict of interest law and a countrywide anti-corruption programme.
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