Governments across Europe have struggled to effectively punish high-level corruption. The task of dismantling intricate networks of state capture has proven to be a major challenge for member states and candidate countries in Southeast Europe. As a result, the region, and therefore all of Europe is highly vulnerable to foreign malign influence and economic coercion.
In an effort to discuss mechanisms for reform, and to highlight existing successful anti-corruption efforts that can serve as models, the Center for the Study of Democracy convened the “Anti-Corruption, Democratic Resilience and Economic Security” forum in Sofia on 9 November 2023. Forum co-hosts Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of CSD, and Siri Beate Barry, Ambassador of Norway, charged attendees with the task to work toward solutions, and stressed the necessity for putting existing policy engagements into practice.
Speakers emphasized that the solution should be sought not only in fair and effective justice but also through awareness and cultural change. Nikolay Denkov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria addressed the enormous responsibility of elected officials to lead the fight and not turn a blind eye to the corrosive effects of state capture.
Laura Kövesi, European Chief Prosecutor called on governments across Europe to build a more cohesive strategy and resolve. The inability to increase capacity and effective procedures for the fight against corruption, she argued, is hampering the effort to stop illicit financial flows. It is also slowing the process of freezing and seizing assets belonging to actors sanctioned for corruption, illegal enrichment, money laundering, and organized crime.
Highlights from the discussion
Laura Kövesi, European Chief Prosecutor
“Corruption is a matter of life and death. And our Ukrainian friends understood that years ago. There are no two worlds separating organized crime and white collar crime. Organized crime cannot exist without financial support. We cannot have unlimited funds for prosecutors. Our strategy must be to cripple their economic capacity."
Nikolay Denkov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria
“Security, in all its dimensions, cannot be achieved without addressing the corrosive influence of corruption and state capture. It is our duty to combat corruption in all its forms and foster an environment of integrity and accountability.”
Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman, Center for the Study of Democracy
“Тhere is no other way to make democracy deliver and build resilient democratic institutions than public-private partnership and coalition building both at the national and the regional level. No other social technology to do this has been invented yet.”
Siri Beate Barry, Ambassador of Norway
“Unfortunately, corruption is a topic that never runs out of fashion. One that comes in different shapes and forms and that can impact every aspect of society. Building trust is about building democracy.”