European Union empowers anti-corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The first high-level anti-corruption conference was organised under the auspices of the European Union, bringing together heads of governments and anti-corruption bodies from different levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss the needs of anti-corruption bodies in the country. The Conference is a direct follow-up to the European Commission’s Opinion that highlights the effective functioning of anti-corruption bodies as one of the key prerequisites to the EU integration process.

Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in BiH, who chaired the conference, reminded of the consequences of corruption and the importance of a true fight against it. “The strategy of combating corruption is only plain paper if there is no political will for it. We want the fight against corruption to be a top priority in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through the support of the European Union, corruption prevention bodies will be strengthened and more effective in combating corruption, and will communicate more effectively with citizens, ” Wigemark said.

Hasim Šabotić and Dragan Slipac from the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption (APIK) presented ‘draft standards’, jointly developed by the anti-corruption bodies in BiH to ensure their professionalization and independence of functioning. They stressed the fact that citizens are seeking a proactive follow-up to the corruption reports and the implementation of anti-corruption policies in BiH. They also highlighted that such bodies need to be established at all levels of competences as fully functional and financially independent institutions.

Ambassador Wigemark underlined that countering corruption is not a bureaucratic requirement devised in Brussels, rather that the citizens of BiH want and have the right to live in a healthy country with functioning, reliable and efficient public institutions. “The EU can support anti-corruption measures in BiH but we can only be successful if all public institutions act together, if there is a clear political will and if this is a priority for all levels of governments,” said Ambassador Wigemark.

The conference “Empowerment of Anti-Corruption in BiH: What Anti-Corruption Bodies need to effectively counter corruption” is organised within the EU funded project “IPAK – Institutional Support to Anti-Corruption” worth €750.000. IPAK is one of three projects launched in 2019 by the European Union worth all together nearly €3.5 million, as part of ongoing support to BiH in the area of rule of law.