Executive Director of Transparency International B&H Srđan Blagovčanin
Executive Director of Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina (TI B&H) Srđan Blagovčanin in an interview for ” Sarajevo Times ” points out that the strengthening of civil society as a whole is a very important aspect of fighting corruption, but with no real political will, there is no successful fight against this problem. Blagovčanin considers that the key pressure to combat these phenomena occur as a result of further progress in the process of the European integration, because the EU requires the effective rule of law, which means a real fight against corruption, and without it the country can not become a responsible member of the EU. During the interview for “Sarajevo Times”, Blagovčanin , among other things, states that TI branch in B&H since it is created until now, has managed to gain the trust of citizens, institutions and international organizations as independent, professional and objective organization that despite the different pressures has remained a consistent critic of all problems related to the abuse of power. According to him TI B&H, is the most proud of the fact that more than 10 000 citizens who were victims or witnesses of corruption, have used the legal assistance of this organization.
Corruption it seems that has become the dominant model of political, economic and overall social relations in B&H, and B&H citizens are suffering the most serious consequences. In what way Transparency International (TI) B&H affects the strengthening of civil society in fight against corruption?
Strengthening of civil society is a very important aspect of fighting the corruption. TI B&H works intensively to strengthen the capacity of civil society in different ways. The most direct way is through various forms of training and education of civil organizations. Then, through providing legal assistance to civil society organizations. Also, through the publication of analysis and research of organizations provides that their advocacy activities to be based on clear and proven facts.
What concrete steps do you take in order to raise awareness of citizens about the importance of the fight against corruption?
TI B&H cooperates with citizens directly through the Center for legal assistance, where citizens can go and get all the information about the adequacy of rights and opportunities to solve problems that they have. Civil center provides to citizens legal assistance in order to exercise and protect their rights. Also, TI B&H is actively working with various community groups in the field of education on the issue of corruption and ways of combating corruption. I would particularly highlight activities in the field of higher education where we are working intensively with teaching staff, students, and leaders of university and ministries to strengthen integrity at the level of higher education.
It is considered that political corruption is the most dangerous form of this problem. We are witnesses that all international officials, recently, are strongly emphasizing the fight against corruption. Is there currently in our country enough political will to address this problem?
Unfortunately the political will on fight corruption in B&H there was never present. All anti-corruption reforms that have been implemented in B&H have occurring under the strong pressure or even by the imposition of the international community. It is clear that successful fight against corruption is impossible without real political will.
Could you for “Sarajevo Times” determine several recommendations of TI B&H on how to get from declarative into operational phase of the fight against corruption in our country?
It is very simple. The point is that declarative political will must be manifested in a certain way in order to create a good legal framework, to provide for the institutions independency in the work and sufficient resources to operate. Of course in order to be manifested the political will, there must be a stronger pressure of the media and of civil society organizations. But I still think that the key pressure will come as a result of further progress in the process of the European integration. EU has also learned a very important lesson in the frame of the accession of the Eastern European countries, and that is that with no effective rule of law, which means the actual fight against corruption states can not become responsible members of the EU.
In the region of the Western Balkans it is created the atmosphere of the fight against corruption, and major contribution gives the pressure of Brussels. Do you expect this tendency to be transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina? When it comes to the fight against corruption, currently where stands our country in comparison with other countries of the region?
The tendency of anti-corruption in the region is strongly conditioned by the process of European integration. Since B&H is behind in the process of European integration compared to other countries in the region, it is reflected in being behind even in the fight against corruption. According to relevant researches of TI, B&H is practically behind in every aspect of the fight against corruption compared to the countries of the region. In the plan of improving the legal framework, institutions functioning and prosecuting corruption, we are very far from what is happening in the region.
In this context, can we expect that B&H will get soon big charges like those in the cases of “Sanader” or “Mišković”?
I think that something like that is not realistic to be expected in B&H. B&H has neither the judicial capacity nor the capacity of law enforcement agencies to tackle the cases the corruption at the highest levels of government. Except the capacity, the problem lies in the fact that the above mentioned institution are still under the control of the political structure, exactly those that are supposed to prosecute.
TI branch in B&H is established in 2001, and it is accredited a year later. What is the impact of the work of TI B&H on reducing corruption in B&H?
In the period from its establishment to the present the branch of TI B&H, has managed to gain the trust of citizens, institutions and international organizations as independent, professional and objective organization that despite various pressures has remained a consistent critic of all phenomena related to the abuse of power. However, we are most proud of the fact that in this period, more than 10 000 citizens who were victims or witnesses of corruption have used the legal assistance of TI B&H. I would point also the activities to improve the legal framework, which unfortunately in recent years is focused on the way of not collapsing the existing legislative framework.
In what projects is currently directed TI B&H and what are the future plans?
TI B&H continuously has carried out activities that could be divided into 3 groups. The first is to provide legal assistance to citizens who are victims or witnesses of corruption, through the Center for legal assistance TI B&H and that citizens can contact by free phone 0800 55555. The second group of activities is related to the implementation of various researches and analysis related to the corruption. The third group relates to actively advocating for changes and reforms that lead to reduction of corruption and prevention of corruption, through cooperation with state institutions, international organizations and with civil society organizations.