news 10 Dec 12

Corruption Halts Bosnia Progress, Watchdog Says

Bosnia has failed to achieve improved results in its fight against corruption, Transparency International said.

Elvira M. Jukic

Watchdog organisation Transparency International has ranked Bosnia 72nd out of 176 countries in its annual index of corruption perception, which means the country is still far behind its neighbours and is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.

Srdjan Blagovcanin, executive director of Transparency International in Bosnia, said that solving problems related to corruption will lead the country out of its economic and political crisis, but lamented that politicians are not willing to tackle these issues.

“The corruption problem is affecting the political agenda in this country,” he said.“But corrupted political elites are systematically obstructing the implementation of reforms because they aim to protect themselves.”

Blagovcanin made his remarks at a conference on corruption held in Sarajevo on December 7, following the release of the rankings.

At the conference, officials from Transparency presented a study on corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina, The National Integrity Study, which is based on the analysis of institutions involved in the fight against corruption.

Blagovcanin said that Croatia's fight against corruption, in particular the conviction of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on charges of corruption, is a close-to-home example that shows Bosnian politicians what the rule of law looks like.

“I am sure that it has to happen in Bosnia too, sooner or later,” Blagovcanin said.

“The good news is that the fight against corruption has been set by the EU as a priority prior to accession to the bloc, but the bad news is that we have not yet had the political will to fight this problem.”

Renzo Daviddi, deputy head of the EU delegation in Sarajevo, said there has to be more force behind the fight against corruption in the country.

“We need a clear and strong political commitment on the part of political leaders,” Daviddi said, adding that civil society must also be involved more actively in the fight against corruption.

The study conducted by Transparency International found that Bosnia's system of national integrity is based on very weak institutions.

The key conclusion of the study is that there is a gap between corruption laws and their implementation in all segments of the country's institutions, which contributes to the failure of some anti-corruption measures.

The study also described executive governments on all levels in Bosnia as inefficient, nontransparent and irresponsible, adding that they lack coordination.

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