A new report warns that a lack of progress fighting corruption in five Eastern European countries hampers democratic progress and undermines the prospect of greater economic and political cooperation with the European Union.
The report, released on July 2 by Transparency International, assesses dozens of institutions responsible for preventing and fighting corruption in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
These countries are set to receive at least $16.6 billion in assistance from the EU over the coming five years, it says, and the risk of this money going into corrupt pockets is “unacceptably high.”
While the five countries have adopted anticorruption laws, the Berlin-based group says, political and business elites exert undue influence over the judiciary and legislature, allowing corruption to go unchecked.
“Politically motivated prosecutions and government interference to circumvent judicial processes are especially problematic in Ukraine and Moldova,” the report says.
It adds that the region has also seen a growing trend of restrictions on nonstate watchdogs such as media and civil society with “intimidation, harassment, persecution and detainment of civic activists and journalists” in Armenia and, in particular, in Azerbaijan.