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JUNE 2016


concerned by signs of potential backsliding that could under-

mine support for the greater, generational project of ensuring

a Europe that is whole, free and at peace, had made the issue

the top priority for their missions. EUR convened two regional

workshops for embassy working leads and interagency partners,

one in Bucharest and a second in Brussels, to meet important

anti-corruption actors, talk through the options available to

posts and brainstorm possible solutions.

EUR envisages the post action plans as an iterative process.

The first drafts were discussed by interested bureaus at State,

with feedback aimed at refining the proposed actions and, in

particular, sharpening diplomatic “asks” that high-ranking U.S.

officials could use when engaging host country counterparts.

Assistant Secretary Nuland mandated that such advocacy points

move out of the “if time permits” section and into the core

bilateral discourse.

The bureau struggled with the question of how to leverage

assistance programming to complement the high-level diplo-

matic engagement in countries that were backsliding on corrup-

tion but had been phased out of U.S. assistance, while avoiding

projects that would be seen as taking a cookie-cutter approach

to a diverse region. Ultimately ACE supported a project through

the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor that was

pioneered at Embassy Bucharest. Using Democracy Commis-

sion funds as seed money, the embassy linked local activists

with IT professionals in a competition to develop governance

and social justice-related information and communication

technology (ICT) tools.

This project grew into a broader effort in the Western Balkans

that ACE and embassy public affairs offices co-funded. The

success of these projects in building a sustained, locally-driven

effort led to a broader push to make the most effective of these

ICT tools available to other countries in the region. This is cur-

rently being implemented by the nonprofit TechSoup.

No Magic Bullet

If Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity validated the focus on cor-

ruption as a vital issue for regional stability and for a country’s

ability to defend its sovereignty and choose its own future, the

depth of the country’s corruption showcases the challenges in

making systemic progress, and the need to continually adjust

anti-corruption action plans.

As Assistant Secretary Brownfield explains in this issue (see p. 24), INL helped conceptualize and underwrite one of the

important successes in Ukraine: the introduction of a “protect

and serve” patrol police to replace the notoriously corrupt road

militia. In addition, the 2015 introduction of an e-procurement

system, ProZorro (“transparent” in Ukrainian), developed by

Transparency International Ukraine, has saved tens of millions

of dollars by reducing insider deals.

Elsewhere, however, progress has been slower. But U.S.

leaders from Vice President Joseph Biden to Ambassador to

Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt continue to spotlight, both publicly and

in private conversations, the need to overhaul the country’s

judicial system, particularly the corrupt prosecutorial and court

systems. Ukraine, like many countries across the region, has

yet to hold “big fish” accountable for corruption. Romania’s

intrepid anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, is a model for

many in the region to emulate in this regard.

There is no single magic bullet proven to eradicate corrup-

tion, despite a cottage industry of experts peddling such solu-

tions. On the contrary, promoting public awareness, account-

ability and integrity in public institutions and civil society

pressure for transparent governance is a complex and long-term


Fortunately, the 2011

Open Government Declaration


an enduring template of principles and a positive aspirational

agenda. The development of effective and accountable institu-

tions, including the criminal justice system, is an ongoing pro-

cess requiring political will and national ownership to succeed.

If we want to see our decades-old vision of a Europe that is

whole, free and at peace fully realized, we have our work cut out

for us in the coming years.


Rather than imposing a

template on posts, EUR

encouraged them to identify

the main corruption-related

issues in their respective

societies and tailor proposed