Tackling corruption is a common challenge for the global democratic community. In Central and Southeast Europe, the re-distribution of state property at the beginning of the transition to a market economy created massive illicit wealth and oligarchic circles, which still aspire for influence. Political turmoil, inequality and poverty created fertile soil for corruption. Nowadays, things are rapidly changing but there is still much to be done. A cohort engaging states from the region with their public institutions and CSOs is necessary for regaining the trust and understanding that are essential for democratic consolidation and resilience.
On 19 January 2023 an international conference co-organised by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice, the Basel Institute of Governance and Center for the Study of Democracy discussed the anticorruption policy solutions in the framework of the Summit for Democracy and the Year of Action. The event brought together representatives of the governments, the public and the civil society sector, as well as Southeast Europe’s SELDI anticorruption initiative. Keynote speakers and panelists included Andrea Brouillette-Rodriguez, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Sofia, Krum Zarkov, Minister of Justice, Ambassador Norman Eisen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Valeriu Cupcea, Head of International Cooperation Directorate, National Anticorruption Center of the Republic of Moldova, and Aleksandar Krzalovski, Director of the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation and Coordinator of SELDI.
Bulgaria has taken the lead of the democratic cohort on the topic of “Anticorruption policies as a guarantee for national security, stability and sovereignty” within the Summit. Within this framework, the panelists discussed the key commitments and concrete actions that Bulgaria and Central and Southeast Europe need to make to improve their democratic resilience. Civil society and government representatives identified as priority areas the establishment of a zero-tolerance environment to administrative corruption, countering strategic corruption as a tool for foreign authoritarian influence, and enhancement of the institutional and legal responses leading to effective investigation and punishment.