By Svetla Dimitrova
Transparency International (TI) released its 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) last week, showing Cyprus again as the least corrupt country in Southeast Europe (SEE). The Mediterranean country ranked well ahead of the other ten nations in the region.
With a score of 6.3, the same as last year, Cyprus placed 30th in the world in the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog’s annual survey. Trailing 31 places behind came Turkey with the second-best mark among the SEE nations, while Kosovo and Moldova received the lowest grades for the region.
Corruption remains endemic in too many countries across the globe, TI stressed in a statement announcing the release of its new CPI. The data from 17 surveys of business leaders and risk analysts that it used to compile the index showed that some governments are failing to protect citizens from corruption, be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making, it noted.
The protests staged around the world in the past 12 months were often sparked not only by economic instability, but corruption as well, TI added. It described the trend as a clear signal that people perceive their leaders and public institutions as neither transparent nor accountable enough.
“This year we have seen corruption on protestors’ banners be they rich or poor,” the statement quoted TI Chair Huguette Labelle as saying. “Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government.”
Using the results of the surveys, the 2011 CPI scored 183 countries and territories from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) based on perceived levels of public sector corruption. Only a third of all nations covered this year received marks higher than 5.0.
With a score of 9.5, New Zealand tops the global table as the least corrupt country in the world this year. It is followed by Denmark and Finland, with marks of 9.4 each. North Korea and Somalia were ranked lowest with scores of just 1.0 each.
All SEE nations, except for Cyprus, received scores of less than 5.0. Furthermore, eight of all 13 countries in the region were given lower marks than last year, while only two — Kosovo and Montenegro — got better grades than those in the 2010 index.
Aside from Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Moldova were the other two SEE countries to be given the same scores as last year, of 3.2 and 2.9, respectively. While BiH was ranked 91st in the world again, Cyprus slid two positions to the 30th and Moldova fell seven places to the 112th due to the addition of five more countries in this year’s CPI.
Montenegro’s new score of 4.0, up from 3.7 a year ago, allowed it to move up three positions to join Croatia and Slovakia in the 66th, while Kosovo improved its mark by 0.1 points to be placed 112th, along with Algeria, Egypt, Moldova, Senegal and Vietnam, all scoring 2.9.
Three SEE nations — Croatia (4.0), Greece (3.4) and Romania (3.6) — lost 0.1 points from their previous scores, while the new ones given to Albania (3.2), Macedonia (3.9), Serbia (3.3) and Turkey (4.2) were 0.2 points lower than those they received in 2010.
Bulgaria lost 0.3 points and fell 13 slots to rank as the most corrupt country in the EU. With its new score of 3.3 it shared the 86th place in the index with Jamaica, Panama, Serbia and Sri Lanka.