President puts anti-corruption top of political agenda

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Taking concrete initiatives in the fight against corruption and setting clear targets to create a general climate of political accountability is a priority for the government, said President Nikos Christodoulides.

At a seminar organised by the Cyprus Bar Association on ‘Independent Anti-Corruption Authority: legislation, practice, and challenges’, he said to achieve the common goals of fighting corruption, transparency and accountability, everyone’s cooperation is required.

President Christodoulides said corruption threatens the foundations of democracy and adversely affects every aspect of public life; it causes uncertainty and irreparably affects the business environment, undermining the country’s competitiveness.

“It is something we often hear in our efforts to attract quality foreign investment to Cyprus, while it leads – the biggest challenge we have to face – to the removal of citizens’ trust towards the institutions and the state.”

He said legislation — the Law on the Establishment and Operation of the Independent Anti-Corruption Authority, the Law on Transparency in Public Decision Making, and the Law on the Protection of Persons Reporting Violations of Union and National Law — has established a strong legal framework to fight corruption.

“And we need to highlight this a little…Cyprus is one of the few EU member states that has enacted all three laws.

“I believe that the Anti-Corruption Authority has gained the citizens’ trust, and this is one of the most decisive objectives the Authority has had.”

The Authority is in the final stage of drafting a Code of Conduct on professional standards and good practices for persons wishing to engage in public decision-making processes.

Despite the important steps taken, the President said, “I strongly believe a specific prevention policy is needed, which will be a key component of eradicating corruption.”

“We have to build a culture, and it will take several years to build an anti-corruption culture.

“It is something we are concerned about; it is something we have discussed with the Minister of Education.”

Christodoulides also said that transparency and accountability are undoubtedly important ingredients in the effort to minimise corruption.

“It is generally accepted that the greater the transparency and accountability, particularly in the public sector, the less corruption is observed.”