Anti-corruption and integrity-building efforts are being seen as a means to achieve better development outcomes, rather than a mere moral endeavor. In its most explicit involvement with the topic yet, IDLO has told Albania that it is ready to assist its attempts to cut corruption and boost the rule of law. The pledge came at an EU-sponsored conference in Tirana last month, chaired by Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Mr. Rama’s government is working to pull Albania off the bottom rung of Europe’s prosperity leagues: the country is one of the continent’s poorest and – Kosovo apart – the poorest on the Balkan peninsula. The two decades which followed the fall of communism were marked by social upheaval and political strife – although the nation has stabilized in recent years. Albania’s development lag, both economic and institutional, has hindered progress toward European Union membership. A decision on granting the country official candidate status may be taken by the EU before the end of 2013. The challenges, however, remain vast.
"There are five key priorities which stand between Albania and accession talks,” a spokesman for the European Commission said earlier this year. “[These are] corruption, organized crime, judiciary, administrative reform, human rights."
Transparency International’s latest rankings put Albania in 116th position among 177 countries for corruption perceptions. The publication of the index prompted Mr. Rama to proclaim injustice, incompetence and corruption the biggest enemies of this government in the coming year.
Louis Gentile, IDLO Director of Strategy and Innovation, has welcomed Albania’s decisiveness. But he cautioned that implementing anti-corruption laws was harder than passing them.
“There are cultural and psychosocial aspects to corruption,” Mr. Gentile told the Tirana conference. “People raised to distrust repressive government in the communist era tend to value private over public sphere. The rule of law is fundamental in fostering clean institutions and citizen confidence.”