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High-Level Open forum on Anti-corruption

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Detlef Kreutzer, key speaker in today’s High-Level Open forum on Anti-corruption, organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania in cooperation with the Minister of State for Local Issues in his responsibility as the National Coordinator against Corruption, on 9th December, marked as the International Anti-Corruption Day.

Drawing attention on the importance of this phenomenon, Mr. Kreutzer, Resident Twinning Advisor in the biggest Anti-Corruption Project financed by the EU in Albania, ended his speech with these 3 sentences: “Corruption is a system. Corruption has a system. Therefore, it can only be combated with a system. Thank You!”

NEAR’s Director General Christian Danielsson speech on anti-corruption at Tirana University

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Tirana, 16/11/2016 

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today.

We are gathered to kick start a very important initiative in the delicate field of the fight against corruption.

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today.

We are gathered to kick start a very important initiative in the delicate field of the fight against corruption.

 

I would like to talk to you about three issues:

  1. Why we believe that the fight against corruption is crucial
  2. Why is the judicial reform important to tackle the problem, also in light of the COM (conditional) recommendation
  3. What are our overall expectations for the future.

 

Why the fight against corruption is crucial

Let me be clear, no effort shall be spared to develop policies and concrete actions to eradicate corruption. This is a scourge that affects directly the life of citizens in many regards. Ultimately, corruption is a theft from you, from all Albanian citizens.

If affects the functioning of the public administration and the quality of services. It has a detrimental effect on the economy. So this means in concrete terms less schools, less hospitals and less jobs.

The cost of corruption is enormous: it costs even in the EU an estimated 1% of the GDP.

Eradicating corruption is a complex endeavour. It is primarily a challenge for the citizens and the institutions of Albania, but these are not alone in their efforts. The EU and, more broadly, the rest of the international community is supporting Albania in this fight. We need to stand united against corruption and share the burden.

This requires means, political willingness from amongst the competent authorities of course, but also determination from those who are ultimately exposed to it as potential victims, from ordinary citizens, to students, entrepreneurs and so on. 

Furthermore, fighting corruption in Albania is also essential to move the country forward in the Enlargement process.

With this in mind, I welcome very much the launch of this twinning project, which will be developed in cooperation with Germany and Austria. This provides an example of how European cooperation and partnership advance concretely and with determination to bring positive change, for the benefit of all citizens throughout Albania.

The project was designed to support to the formulation, coordination and also concrete implementation of anti-corruption policies. I warmly commend the initiative and I also call for more action.

Our assistance is in fact much broader. There are indeed 10 million EURO of financial support in the pipeline for the implementation of the inter-sectoral strategy against corruption. Such support targets specifically all operational aspects related to prevention, repression, and awareness-raising.

There are in the equation also those who actually benefit from extensive presence of corruption in the system; those who by profession object the rule of the law and live by the rule of the money: organised criminal networks.

This is why I hope that progress continues steadily in the fight against corruption and more broadly on strengthening the rule of law chain in Albania.

 

Why judicial reform is key, also in light of the COM (conditional) recommendation

The judiciary has often proven to be the weakest link in the rule of law chain.

Last week the Commission, with its yearly report, issued a conditional recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania. I am sure you are all aware as this decision was extensively reported and debated by local media.

The recommendation is subject to credible and tangible progress in the implementation of justice reform, particularly through the vetting of judges and prosecutors.

We expect that the architecture of the judiciary in the country is restructured in ways that can allow the establishment of a fully independent, accountable, efficient and impartial system. A system in which everybody can truly rely. A system that performs well its crucial role of representing a pillar of the state.

But change will not only happen through better legislation and institutional restructuring. Clearing the ranks of the judiciary from those that were corrupt or have developed links with organised criminal network is key. To this end, the re-evaluation of all judges and prosecutors is an inescapable step to make so that professionalism can eventually be secured across the sector. 

Beyond the justice sector, it is important to continue the consolidation of the fight against corruption and the prevention of conflict of interest across the public service. I would like to take this opportunity to express support to the work carried out in this area by the High-Inspectorate of Declaration and Control of Assets and Conflict of Interest (HIDAACI).

 

Overall expectations for the future

Delivering on this is crucial for the rule of law and therefore was kept at the core of the Commission perspective engagement for the months to come with a clear conditional link of our recommendation.

So, summing up, the message by the European Commission for Albania in the latest Enlargement Package carries acknowledgement of the steady progress made thus far by the country, while at the same time brings in its essence clear responsibilities for domestic authorities to continue delivering with concrete implementation. This requires political determination and the continuation of an inclusive process, to which political actors contribute responsibly.

We expect that progress continues. The recommendation is meant as an encouragement to produce timely results.

When it comes to more effective fight against corruption, results are expected also beyond the reform of the justice system. Areas of particular concern in Albania, that we aim at tackling also with this project, among others include: party financing, de facto impunity for high level officials, undue influence of private business interests on political decision making and on rule of law operators.

In parallel, the EU will provide support to civil society to increase public awareness and consolidate the citizens’ first line response against corruption.

Civil society and media have an important role to play in preventing and fighting this widespread phenomenon, denouncing, monitoring public services, raising public awareness. Civil society must be part of a sustainable and long term solution for this challenge and the role of youth and universities is particularly crucial in this endeavour. Equally crucial is having an environment where freedom of media can flourish, and where investigative journalism is promoted.                                                                                                 

Corruption is crime, whatever the level and the magnitude is.

We stand by your side in finding the proper way to fight this challenge, as we stand by your side in the broader efforts to secure socio-economic stability, boost development, entrench the rule of law and bring Albania where it belongs, to be fully member of the European Union.

Thank you.

 

Albania and the EU united in the fight against corruption

Tirana, 16/11/2016

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Joint Statements

European Union funds a new partnership against corruption in Albania in a joint action with Austria and Germany

The biggest anti-corruption project of its kind in the Western Balkans countries, financed with an amount of three Million Euro from the European Union, started today in Tirana with a town hall meeting at the Faculty of Social Sciences in the University.

Through the twinning project “Support to the formulation, coordination and implementation of anti-corruption policies“, two EU Member State’s public authorities enter in partnership with the beneficiary country, in order to assist the Albanian state administration in the preparation of its EU membership. The aim of such instrument is to achieve concrete results through peer to peer activities. Albania’s twins in the current project are Austria and Germany. They will support Albania in the next 29 months in its fight against corruption.

“The reform of the judiciary remains the milestone of the institutional fight against corruption, especially with regard to the punishment of officials of all ranges. The constitutional amendments and the 7 laws accompanying the reform package should not be obstructed by diverging political agendas, but we should firmly commit to their implementation and put an end to the culture of impunity in Albania. I would like to emphasize that the fight against corruption is a battle that we have to fight firstly for the benefit of our daily lives as citizens of our country, in line with the support of our partners and in light of joining the bigger European family.  Undoubtedly, as one of the key priorities in the further progress of Albania towards EU, winning this battle is also proof that we have deserved the trust of our European partners which support us with human and financial resources”, said the National Coordinator against Corruption, Minister Bledar Çuçi, in his  opening speech in front of about 200 participants.

„Let me be clear, no effort shall be spared to develop policies and concrete actions to eradicate the scourge of corruption“, Christian Danielsson, European Commission’s Director General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations addressed the audience. „It affects directly the life of citizens in many regards. If affects the functioning of the public administration and the quality of services. It has a detrimental effect on the economy. So this means in concrete terms less schools, less hospitals and less jobs. That is why we are here today. That is why this project is important. Fighting corruption in Albania is essential to move forward the enlargement process,“ he added.

The results expected from this project are related to the improvement in capacity of responsible institutions dealing with anti-corruption, but also to establish mechanism for implementing the Whistle-blower Protection and Access to Information laws, improve oversight and control of political party finances, assist to improve public intolerance towards corruption etc.

Project-leader Helmut Weichhart said: „With over 50 experts and an experienced team on site in Tirana we are well positioned to assist Albania efficiently in its fight against corruption.

After the speeches the audience asked questions to a panel with the participation of high representatives of beneficiary independent institutions such as the High Inspectorate on the Declaration of Assets and Audit of Conflict of Interest, the Central Elections Committee, the High State Audit and the Commissioner for the Right of Information and Data Protection.

All participants underlined the importance of an effective fight against corruption in Albania’s accession efforts to the European Union and the further political and economic development of the country.

For more information:

Lorena Pullumbi

Chief of Staff to the Minister of State of Local Issues/

National Coordinator in Anti-Corruption

lorena.pullumbi@ceshtjetvendore.de

Detlef Kreutzer

Resident Twinning Advisor

detlef.kreutzer@acalbania.eu