Czechia lacks corruption curbing strategy, pundit says

The head of the Czech branch of Transparency International says the country has only had 'false anti-corruption prophets' in recent history. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.05.2023 07:30:00 (updated on 01.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia lacks a long-term, actively enforced strategy to curb corruption and politicians do not care much about the effectiveness of anti-corruption legislation, Ondřej Kopečný, head of the Czech branch of Transparency International (TI CZ), said in an interview with ČTK.

In Czechia, politicians pass laws mainly to enable the drawing of EU funds or meet international organizations’ requirements, Kopečný, a political scientist by training, said. The country is still waiting for a political leader who would take the fight against corruption seriously. So far, it has only seen "a number of false anti-corruption prophets like former Minister of Transport Vít Bárta or former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš," Kopečný said.

TI CZ has been monitoring the situation in the Czech Republic for 25 years. It was founded as a civic association five years after the establishment of Transparency International, an international non-profit NGO that began operating in Berlin on May 4, 1993.

Kopečný said politicians like to talk about the fight against corruption during election campaigns but "a sobering up" always follows afterward. The aforementioned factors cause Czechia's stagnation in the Corruption Perception Index, which Transparency International publishes annually. Czechia currently stands at 41st position out of 180 countries assessed, scoring 56 out of 100 points, while the average for the EU states is 64 points, Kopečný said.

He said that in the Czech Republic, there is a well-known "1990s" cliché about corruption in the form of envelopes filled with banknotes. "Such behavior certainly still occurs, but it is not the main problem," he said, adding that the current form of corruption is much more sophisticated - money laundering, the use of tax havens, conflicts of interest in high politics, or the privatization of public interest.

"In the Czech Republic, we tend to underestimate the impact of this sophisticated type of corruption and therefore do not put enough emphasis on tackling it," Kopečný said.

TI CZ tries to push for legislative and other systemic changes in meetings with officials and politicians. For example, it has representatives on the Government Council for Coordination of the Fight against Corruption.

It provides its funding and does not automatically receive funds for its activities from TI's Berlin headquarters. TI CZ does not accept funding from political parties or movements and receives money from non-profit grants and subsidy programs for which it regularly competes. 

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