BERLIN – Despite aspirations to join the European Union, the scores in six Western Balkan countries have not improved in 2019, finds Transparency International in its annual Corruption Perception Index, which was published today.
“A lack of political will and a decline in implementation of laws and regulations are real challenges”, the report concludes.
Montenegro is the only country of the region with a score above global average. However, this is the same score as last year (45) and is still below all EU member states apart from Bulgaria (43).
North Macedonia and Albania share the worst result in the region, with 35 points each. This represents a fall of two points for Skopje and one point for Tirana compared to previous year.
Slađana Taseva, president of TI Macedonia, said that this year’s result is a sign of a captured state, high level political corruption, lack of transparency in public sector and the inefficiency of the control and regulatory bodies that is a consequence of insufficient capacity for their work.
“Substantial reforms in the fight against corruption are necessary in the years to come”, Taseva concluded.
The CPI, which was first introduced in 1995, puts the countries on a 0-100 scale, where 0 equals the highest level of perceived corruption and 100 equals the lowest level of perceived corruption. With 87 points, New Zealand is seen as the least corrupt country for 2018, while the most corrupt one is Somalia, with 9 points.
Serbia: Stagnation and lack of political will
Serbia is another country that has remained on the same level since 2018, with 39 points.
According to Transparency, Serbia’s stagnation in corruption investigations is the least that can be expected in a situation where the Government openly violates and relativises the anti-corruption rules it has proposed, and the prosecution does not provide clear answers to publicly raised and documented suspicions of corruption.
Concentrated political power and citizens’ support for the fight against corruption have not been used to strengthen institutions and the rule of law, which would ensure that the accountability system works regardless of the existence of “political will”, and especially without a “political order”. The 2013-2018 anti-corruption strategy announcing “zero tolerance of corruption” and the Action Plan for Chapter 23 EU Integration (2016-2018) have not been fulfilled and the reasons for these omissions have not been discussed in the Assembly, the report found.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Worst result since 2012
Bosnia and Herzegovina is rated 36 this year, which is the worst rating since 2012 since the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is based on the existing methodology. In the Index rankings published by Transparency international, BiH dropped by 11 places compared to last year and, together with Kosovo, ranked 101st out of 180 countries.
According to the report, such a big fall in BiH was mostly due to irregularities in the conduct of elections, laws in the field of financing political parties and election campaigns, which did not allow citizens the right to free and fair elections, which TI BiH pointed out in the election monitoring. BiH is thus one of the countries that, due to the steady increase in the most serious forms of political corruption, is unable to provide its citizens with basic human rights.
Kosovo: A country to watch
With a score of 36, Kosovo has been declared “a country to watch” by Transparency International due to a potential for change of the usual practices.
The country is experiencing a shift in parliamentary power that could offer an opportunity for change, TI points out. After years of criticising the government and international community in Kosovo for their failure to address corruption, Vetevendosje party, which recently won a majority of parliamentary seats, has a chance to demonstrate its commitment to combating corruption, the report reminded.
During the election campaign, the party was one of a few that responded to requests to disclose campaign costs. However, it remains to be seen if a new government will live up to a higher standard of political integrity. It can do so by abandoning the usual practice of political appointments in state-owned enterprises and by establishing a strong legal obligation for financial disclosure by political parties, TI concludes.