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How to Combat Corruption

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 26
Results of the project ‘Effective mechanisms for fighting corruption in the Black sea region: lessons and recommendations for Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia,’ were presented by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, on October 25, at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. The project was set up so that the four countries could share, compare and analyse their experiences in fighting corruption over the past several years, as well as make recommendations.

Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey have used a number of ways to combat the problem. According to the research of the project coordinators, in all three countries corruption was named as a major problem for the country by employees of different public institutions. In addition each country named “elite corruption” as the most significant issue that somehow prevents effective fighting against corruption. Each country also had institutions and other bodies working to combat corruption and their experiences might be useful for in Georgia. According to a delegate at the presentation, “There are specific parliamentary committees in Romania for combating corruption and Bulgaria has the State National Security Agency, which is a mix of the National Security Service, Military and financial intelligence services. Turkey uses its Financial Crimes Investigation board to fight the problem.” Project coordinator, Archil Abashidze told The Messenger, “Those services have their shortcomings, for example, in Romania, parliamentary committees are not very influential, in Bulgaria, the named institution, which is a mixture of intelligence services is often unable to make information available to the public, due to the specifics of the intelligence service. However, the fact that those institutions exist in the countries is positive.”

Recommendations made by the project coordinators for the authorities are: “1. The role of Parliament in fighting corruption should be increased. 2. Rights of the Chamber of Control should be widened. 3. Investigative journalism should be supported and the state anticorruption strategy and action plan should be publicised and known by Georgian people.”

A representative of the Ministry of Justice, Zurab Sanikidze told The Messenger, “The authorities are working actively in this area and as a result of their efforts, corruption levels in Georgia have been reduced significantly. In 2004 Georgia was in 120th place in the world in terms of corruption levels, whereas now we are 66th. In addition everyone, no matter what position they holding is punished if found guilty of accepting a bribe and it is obvious. There is the anti-corruption committee, chaired by the Minister of Justice in the country. There is a state anti-corruption strategy and action plan, adopted in close collaboration with NGOs acting in Georgia; all the documents are public and anyone interested can contact us to obtain copies. As for the parliament’s active anti corruption role, I can say that according to the new constitution, the role of parliament is increased and parliament will carry more functions than it has now.”

According to oppositional New Rights representative, Manana Nachkebia, corruption has changed it form and character, “The fact that corruption is not often cited as one of the major problems in the country during public polls is natural, since following the Shevardnadze era even ordinary officials were taking bribes. Now corruption moved to the high echelons i.e. elite corruption, and ordinary citizens have little contact with it. However this does not mean that the corruption is not a major problem of the country. Elite corruption flourishes.

Analyst, Irakli Sesiashvili told The Messenger, “Despite the authorities’ frequent statements that corruption levels in the country have significantly reduced and their statements to the international community that Georgia is fulfilling all its international obligations; this is not true. There is elite corruption in the country, with bribes are being taken by high ranking political figures and they are not punished for it.”