Politicians and their networks are controlling their nations’ affairs to profit from corruption with impunity
16.12.2020 A law passed in Albania has given A.N.K Sh.P.K., a company close to the ruling Socialist Party, a hugely overpriced contract for building a 17.2 km road. The construction costs are expected to be almost €300 million, over twice the amount the government had envisaged. In Turkey, a law reclassified a protected wetland so that Istanbul’s new airport could be built on it. Six people in Macedonia are accused of laundering around €4.5 million to finance the VMRO-DPMNE political party. Among them is former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, who is also implicated in several other corruption scandals.
These are examples of state capture, when powerful individuals and groups use corruption to shape a nation’s policies, laws and economy to benefit their own private interests. It allows the corrupt to maintain their power, get rich from the state and avoid punishment.
Ordinary citizens pay for this through loss of livelihood, poor public services, limited opportunities and by losing trust in democracy as they see government institutions serve private interests.
This is happening at all levels of government – from local authorities to the executive – in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Here, chains of loyalty and mutual benefits are leading officials to abuse their office and tighten the grip of a few networks on these countries.
A new Transparency International report on the Western Balkans and Turkey reveals the causes of this state capture, as well as two enabling factors that allow it to happen: undue influence on the judiciary and on law-making.