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Fight against corruption is in the public interest of Croatia

“Fight against corruption, as being one of the main social problems, is in the public interest of Croatia but is also one of priorities of the EU”, PhD Aleksandar Štulhofer said in his round table Corruption and fight against corruption in Croatia 2013-2014 introductory presentation, organized by Partnership for Social Development. Professor Štulhofer also presented an interesting differentiation of corruption. Low corruption as the “tool for surviving in the context of ineffective state” and high corruption as the “inherited interweaving of politics and economy”. In the end of his opening presentation, he concluded that Croatia needs an anti-corruption revolution.

During the result presentation of conducted perception of corruption research, Executive Director of Partnership for Social Development, Munir Podumljak, emphasized the most important research results: corruption is perceived as the biggest problem in the society, right behind the unemployment; corruption in Croatia is dominantly taking place on higher levels; percentage of citizens who have encountered corruption is around 9% which is disproportionate to percentage of perceived corruption. “This leads to a conclusion that citizens still do not recognize all the forms of corruption but they usually connect corruption with bribing.” He concluded by saying that there are few problems in the fight against corruption including: selective approach, lack of protective systems and small amount of funds allocated on EU level for this purpose.

Dalija Orešković, Chairwoman of the Conflict of Interest Commission, said that cooperation with the civil society organizations is one of the Commission’s obligations and has called for higher opening and cooperation. Orešković considers that capacity building, especially strengthening of human factor, is crucial for fight against corruption, but she also stressed that the area of corruption is very dynamic and how institutional/legislative framework is usually one step behind in relation to those who are engaged in corruptive practices. In the end, she stated how citizens, in specific situations, have no one to turn to because there is no such institution in charge of solving problems of this kind.

Senior Counsellor in the Independent Anti-Corruption Sector, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Tomislav Matoc was talking about enacting of the new Anti-Corruption Strategy 2015-2020 wherein he mentioned priority areas which the Strategy is focusing on: healthcare, finance, traffic, agriculture, public procurement and conflict of interests. He also said that organizations of civil society, employers, unions and associations of cities and municipalities participated in making of the new Strategy.

Mirjana Štraus, Head of Service for Ethics and Value System in State Administration, Ministry of Public Administration, was talking about raising of civil servants’ and officials’ ethics as a mean, but also as an objective. Štraus revealed that Ministry of Public Administration has an open telephone line and that they receive around 1000 calls per year. Most of the complaints refer to servants and officials on local level. She also stressed that when it comes to perception of corruption, it is usually about corruption in specific sector and not in the ministries. She concluded by saying that the ethics programs are, for now, conducted at the Ministry of Public Administration only.

Corruption and Fight against Corruption in Croatia 2013-2014 round table was held as a part of the “Civil society for good governance and the fight against corruption in South Eastern Europe: capacity building for monitoring, advocacy and awareness raising” project which is conducted by Center for the Study of Democracy from Sofia and is financed from IPA CSF. In the project there are 17 partners from nine countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey).
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