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International Conference “Combating Corruption through Transparent and Open Governance” held in Zagreb


On Friday, 18th February 2011 in Zagreb, the Croatian Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs organised an international conference “Combating Corruption through Transparent and Open Governance” in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, Transparency International Croatia and the Regional Programme for the rule of law in South Eastern Europe of the German foundation “Konrad Adenauer Stiftung”.
After the opening remarks by the President of Transparency International Croatia Nikola Kristic and the Head of the Office for Cooperation with NGO Igor Vidacak, Thorsten Geissler, the Director of the Rule of Law Programme for South Eastern Europe at the Konrad Adenauer foundation starkly noted that corruption harms the poorest the most and emphasised the need to fight corruption head on.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Croatia, Paul Vandoren, stated that the European Union expects Croatia to implement concrete measures to improve the transparency of state administration bodies, which is one of the key preconditions for the successful fight against corruption. He also took the opportunity commended the Croatian Government for passing the Code of Practice on consultation with the interested public in procedures of adopting laws, other regulations and acts in November 2009.
The Minister of Justice, Drazen Bosnjakovic, emphasized to the audience that there is great willingness to put an end to corruption in Croatia. He noted that Croatia is well aware that corruption is eating away the very foundations of the social fabric, and that citizen’s trust in institutions needs to be restored. He also mentioned that the topic of the conference “Combating Corruption through Transparent and Open Governance” is a key element of state functioning.
After the introductory speeches, the President of the “Group of States Against Corruption” (GRECO) of the Council of Europe, Drago Kos, the President of the Slovenian Commission for Preventing Corruption Goran Klemencic, and the Advisor to the Transparency International EU Liaison Office in Brussels, Ronny Patz, spoke of European experiences in the implementation of anti corruption and transparent governance measures. The discussion was moderated by professor Zdravko Petak from the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb.

Another of the important topics covered by the conference was the implementation of the new standards of transparency in the operations of state administration bodies. State Secretary at the Ministry of Administration, Davor Ljubanovic, Head of the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Igor Vidacak, Damir Grubisa from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb and Sladjana Novota, President of the Council for the Development of Civil Society, and moderator, shared their respective views on the theme.
Within the scope of the conference, the Ministry of Justice presented the findings of an analysis of the perception of corruption in Croatia in 2010. The analysis was conducted as a part of EU’s IPA 2007 project “Strengthening Inter-Agency Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption – Rising Awareness Campaign”, by an independent market research agency, “Hendal”, on a sample of 1000 citizens. Comparing the findings of a survey based on the same criteria conducted by “Gallup” in 2007, it is clear that the perception of corruption amongst civil servants and politicians has increased because the effectively facilitate organised crime in return for money or other benefits. In comparison the previous research, there is an increased number of citizens which believe that something can be done in the fight against corruption by having stricter laws, court rulings and educational campaigns.
During the closing panel discussion moderated by Mislav Togonal, journalist from the Croatian Radio and Television, domestic and international experts spoke about transparency and open governance at the local level. Professor Ivan Kopric from the Faculty of Law at the University of Zagreb gave a theoretical overview of the topic, while Nienke Palstra from the Brussels office of Transparency International spoke about European experiences in achieving open governance at the local level. The Executive Director of GONG, Sandra Pernar, Maja Stanojevic-Pokrovac from the Croatian Employer’s Association and Nives Kopajtich-Skrlec from the Croatian Association of Towns all spoke of the challenges Croatia faces in organising transparent governance at the local level from their respective sectors.
The aims of the conference were to familiarise the wider pubic with the achievements and measures taken in strengthening transparency and openness in the functioning of Croatian public administration, get a better view of a European experiences and practices, and open the discussion regarding possible cooperation of all social actors in this field, which is of great importance for the success of Croatian anti-corruption politics. It is worth noting that the conference was attended by nearly 200 participants, including high-level officials from various international organisations, public sector bodies, embassies of EU member states, heads of counties, towns as well as representatives of the academia, civil society and media.
All the materials from the conferences, including presentations can be accessed here (in Croatian).
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