Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

Regional analysis by Cornelia Abel, Nacho Espinosa and Svetlana Savitskaya

As follow-up to the regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, additional examples from Albania, Kosovo and Georgia highlight the need for more progress in anti-corruption efforts in these countries and across the region.

European Union enlargement and Albania

In the last six years, Albania, which scored 38 on the recent Corruption Perceptions Index, experienced some improvements with the passage of a ground-breaking judicial reform package – the first of its kind in the region. This milestone may be attributed to the recent European Union (EU) enlargement strategy and the efforts Albania is taking to try to join the EU.

Shouting into a void in Kosovo

In Kosovo, one of three countries in the region that scored higher in 2017 than it did in 2012, overall corruption remains high. With a score of 39, Kosovo still has a long way to go to halt corruption. While freedom of speech and association are not restricted by any obscure legislation, the voices of NGOs and media are simply not heard across the country. More must be done to ensure that any cases uncovered by civil society move forward and are ultimately prosecuted, including high-profile ones. 

Weak enforcement in Georgia

This year, Georgia, usually a leader in anti-corruption among non-Baltic, former Soviet Union countries, secured a score of 56, a decrease of one point since last year. While Georgia experienced some important legal improvements, including the introduction of a verification procedure for public officials to declare assets, as well as stronger protections for whistle-blowers, it also saw some setbacks. Limited enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations, as well as a serious lack of judicial independence hinder forward progress across the country. In addition, multiple allegations of corruption against influential politicians were never investigated. This coming year serves as an important opportunity for the government to implement some essential reforms, including the establishment of a much needed independent anti-corruption agency.   

Call to action

Looking at lessons from across the region, our regional analysis confirms more civil engagement is needed to hold leaders and governments to account. We cannot fight corruption if there is limited civic space for people to engage. Nor can we move forward if a repressed media cannot report cases of corruption. To truly turn the tide against corruption, a change in mind-set and behaviour is needed. At their core, governments should serve communities and be transparent in their activities, and communities should be able to hold governments to account and have a means to offer constructive input.

This is Part II of our regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia - you can find the first part here.

Image: EU's High representative for foreign affairs and security policy speaks to the Albanian Parliament in Tirana
Flickr / European External Action Service

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