Corruption is ‘off the charts’ in Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Hungary

Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia got their worst corruption scores in ten years in the latest Global Perceptions Corruption Index, CPI, which the watchdog organisation Transparency International published on Tuesday.

Lidija Prokic, TI Regional Coordinator for Eastern and South East Europe, said the average CPI score for the Western Balkans was 38, which is less than the global average of 43 and far less than the EU average of 66.

“We see that mechanisms to control corruption in Western Balkan and Turkey still have a long way to go in terms of improvement,” Prokic told BIRN.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, ranked in 110th place (scoring 34 points) out of 180 countries, was the worst-ranked Western Balkan country. Prokic said that there are “a number of alarming issues” in Bosnia, including a lack of judicial independence besides a number of problems noted during the 2022 elections.

“We saw that, for example, business entities that are donating to parties competing in elections are also the business entities getting tenders and jobs and opportunities from those very institutions that these parties are then elected to,” she said.

Next worst in the region are Serbia and Albania, ranked in 101st place with 36 points, together with Turkey. Serbia’s historic low score was attributed mainly “to continued weakening of the rule of law and growing autocracy”. Last year, Serbia was ranked 96th with 38 points. Its highest-ever score, of 42, was in 2013, and it never scored less than 38 until this report.

“One thing that is also very characteristic of Serbia is that we see an enormous number of CEOs in state-owned enterprises who are kept in their acting mandates for extended periods of time,” Prokic said.

“Considering the amount of public funds that these state-owned enterprises have, and the decisive role of CEOs in how these funds are used, that really raises serious concerns and is a serious risk of corruption,” she added.

The Berlin-based watchdog divides all countries into six geographical groups: Americas, Western Europe and the EU, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific. It then measures perceived levels of corruption in each state and awards points from 0 to 100. A score of 100 points means a “very clean” perception, while 0 means “highly corrupted”.

Albania’s place has remained largely unchanged on the CPI.