Following the launch of a new TI chapter in Sweden, anti-corruption activists from the Baltic and Nordic region will meet to discuss clean trade, good corporate governance and European integration
Transparency International (TI), the world's leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption, marked the launch today of a national chapter in Sweden. The launch will be followed by the first joint meeting of TI national chapters in the Baltic and Nordic region, which will take place in Stockholm on 21 September.
"The launch of a Swedish national chapter is a step towards the creation of a more robust, vigilant civil society, to complement the strength of the country's other institutions," said Bo Karlström, one of the founders of TI Sweden. "Although Sweden has a long tradition of democracy and access to information, there is still room for improvement," he added. TI already has chapters in Denmark, Finland and Norway and in the three Baltic states.
The Nordic countries consistently rank among the 'least corrupt' in TI's annual Corruption Perceptions Index. But a spate of recent scandals has highlighted the need for further anti-corruption efforts. "The latest scandals in the region, including the Swedish-Finnish Gotlandbolaget and the Norwegian StatOil bribery cases, show that vigilance and systemic reforms are needed even in the cleanest countries, " said TI chairman Peter Eigen speaking in Stockholm today. "The response to the StatOil case was commendable, with [Norwegian crime body] Okokrim meting out stiff penalties," he added.
Looking ahead to the Baltic-Nordic meeting, Miklos Marschall, regional director for Europe and Central Asia at the TI Secretariat, said: "The countries represented at this week's regional meeting are diverse. Levels of corruption vary greatly between the Nordic and Baltic nations. But they share a common geography and, in the post-Soviet era, renewed cultural and commercial ties. They also face many of the same challenges, thrown up by increasing economic integration, dissolution of borders within the EU, and common threats, such as organised crime."
"This is a time of great change and upheaval for the Baltic countries," said Marschall. "They have endured the trials of independence and privatisation and now face the challenge of European integration." Despite the economic achievements of the past decade, levels of corruption in the region remain worryingly high. Latvia continues to be vulnerable to organised crime, causing concern that it functions as a 'transit country' for criminals from neighbouring Russia. Lithuania, too, made headlines earlier this year with the impeachment of its president, Roland Paksas. While Paksas's alleged links to Russian crime syndicates were troubling, systemic checks proved to be effective, with parliament voting to remove him from office. According to Marschall: "The appointment of an Estonian prime minister as European anti-fraud and corruption commissioner sends a positive signal." Civil society is also a strong and growing feature of the political landscape.
For any press enquiries please contact
Jeff Lovitt, TI Secretariat (Berlin, Germany)
Tel: +49-30-3438 2045
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
Birgitta Johansson (Stockholm)
Tel: +46-46-14 13 7