On December 6th and 7th, MCIC organized the ‘Open Forum on Anti-Corruption’ that took place at Holiday Inn in Skopje, marking the International Anti-Corruption Day. This event unfolded within the framework of the ‘Citizens Against Corruption’ and ‘Regional Anti-Corruption Network (SELDI)’ programs. The primary objective of the forum was to comprehensively address the state of corruption in North Macedonia through inclusive discussions involving civil society organisations from North Macedonia and WB region, media representatives, the private sector, and the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.
The opening day featured welcoming remarks from Stevo Pendarovski, President of North Macedonia, EU Ambassador David Geer, and Dawn Carmin, the Director of the Democracy and Governance Office at USAID North Macedonia. President Pendarovski, in his opening speech, underscored the unfortunate reality that corruption has become ingrained in our daily lives, affecting every citizen. Ambassador Geer emphasized the critical importance of progress in the rule of law and the fight against corruption for North Macedonia’s EU aspirations and, most importantly, for its citizens. In a video statement, Dawn Carmin acknowledged the numerous anti-corruption champions in the country, particularly among journalists and watchdog organizations, shedding light on corrupt practices and prompting action in the absence of institutional response.
Following the welcoming addresses, Aleksandar Krzalovski, Director of MCIC, presented the findings of the Corruption Assessment Report for North Macedonia, 2023.
The Forum later on included a panel discussion that delved into the delivery of promises to combat corruption and explored opportunities to enhance collaboration between the public sector and civil society organizations. Participants in this discussion included Slavica Grkovska, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of North Macedonia in charge of Good Governance; Biljana Ivanovska, President of the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption; Maksim Acevski, the Director of the State Audit Office; Snezana Kamilovska Trpovska, Coordinator of the Citizens Against Corruption program; and German Filkov, President of the Center for Civil Communications.
On December 6th, two additional panel discussions were held: ‘How to Achieve Better Cooperation in the Fight against corruption among the public, civil, and business sectors,’ organized by the Platform of Civil Organizations Against Corruption, and ‘Anticorruption performances in public procurement by institutions at the central and local levels in North Macedonia,’ organized by the Center for Civic Initiatives.
Through the joint action of all affected parties, we will be closer to victory in the fight against corruption. This is what we can conclude from the panel discussions held on the second day of the Open Anti-Corruption Forum.
The main panel on December 7th centered on commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day. Biljana Ivanovska, the President of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption, expressed a commitment to transparency, honesty, and professionalism throughout their term. She emphasized leaving a legacy for the secretariat to continue its work and be well-equipped, citing that their current capacity is only a fraction of what is necessary, despite international community recommendations. Marie-Madeleine Kanellopoulou, the Head of the Operation in the EU Delegation, highlighted in her speech that the fight against corruption is an enduring journey, even for the EU. She underscored that progress in this area is crucial for countries aspiring to join the EU. Simultaneously, it was emphasized that dedication and commitment from all institutions, citizens, and advancements in the legal framework are essential. Addressing the audience, Aleksandar Krzalovski, Director of MCIC, noted that recent cases have demonstrated the institutions’ ability to act swiftly and effectively. He stressed the importance of acting upon the recommendations in the reports from the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption and the State Audit Office, as well as those from civil society organizations. Moreover, the Corruption Assessment Report highlighted corruption as the primary concern among citizens, with one in three individuals having been solicited for a bribe, and over half a million people being involved in corruption.
The forum also featured four parallel sessions dedicated to combating corruption in the private sector, institutional transparency in the fight against corruption, the price of the fight against corruption and the state of public procurement in the Western Balkans, organized by the Chamber of Commerce of North Macedonia, Metamorphosis, Transparency International Macedonia, and Balkan Tender Watch. The event concluded with two sessions led by media and Balkan Tender Watch. These sessions delved into investigations based on media reports, acknowledging their significant role as tools in the fight against corruption and highlighting stakeholders’ role in the fight against corruption in public procurement.