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Round table with Jorn Holme: Public-Private Partnership in Anti-Corruption - the Role of Civil Society in the Process of Development and Implementation of Anti-Corruption Policies

A round table discussion on the role of civil society in implementing anti-corruption policies took place at the Center for the Study of Democracy on October 10, 2003. Mr. Jorn Holme, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and the Police of Norway, who visited Bulgaria on the occasion of the conference of the European Ministers of Justice on October 8-10, was a special guest to the discussion. Other participants included anti-corruption experts from foreign aid agencies, government institutions and non-government organizations.

In his opening remarks Dr. Ognian Shenov, CSD Chairman, pointed out that public-private partnership was very important for implementing successful anti-corruption programs. Ambassador Rolf Baltzersen stressed on the efforts of the Norwegian government to support the countries from Eastern Europe for their preparation for membership in the EU and the European Economic Area.

Onik Karapchian, Advisor on Public Administration and Judiciary Reform at the World Bank in Sofia and Gene Gibson, Senior Advisor on Good Governance and the Rule of Law at USAID shared the opinion that a good cooperation between the aid agencies and the civic organizations was also necessary to speed up the administrative reforms.

According to Mr. Holme, countering corruption required not only legislative measures but also prevention where the role of the media and NGOs is of a crucial importance. The society is the only victim of acts of corruption, therefore the public should have an access to information, including court decisions and administrative documents, Mr. Holme said giving as an example the Central Registry of Norway which has been made accessible for every citizen of the country.

Dr. Silvy Chernev, Chair of the Court of Arbitration with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and member to the Task Force which developed the Judicial Anti-Corruption Program said that reforms had been initiated by each government in separate sectors of the Judiciary but a substantial reform had never taken place. According to him the "self-reforming" approach is not efficient in the case of the Bulgarian Judiciary.

Dr. Vassil Kirov, Director of the Financial Intelligence Agency, said that more efforts were needed to prevent corruption in all three branches of power in order to ensure their transparency, accountability and responsibility.

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