World

Corruption in the Balkans: A Real Issue for the People

by Dr. Zsolt Nyiri and Timothy B. Gravelle

Majorities see it as widespread and harmful for the country

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Bulgaria and Romania became the newest members of the European Union on Jan. 1, 2007, and several of their neighbors in the Western Balkan region are seeking to follow in their footsteps. Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are official candidates -- while Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia (together with Kosovo under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244) are potential candidates. 

There are several major obstacles in their path. On Nov. 6, 2007, the European Commission released a less-than-optimistic progress report on the official and potential Balkan candidates. The report cites widespread corruption, organized crime, and ethnic tensions as major obstacles to EU membership and states that measures taken to combat corruption “are not commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.” In this climate, it appears unlikely that any new countries from the region, with the exception of Croatia, will become members in the near future.

People, Not Just Politicians, Express Concern

Corruption is not only an issue for politicians in Brussels, but also for people in these potential member states. In a Balkan-wide Gallup survey conducted earlier this year, majorities in almost every country in the region agree that corruption is widespread in both business and government. In most countries, however, people are at least slightly more likely to say corruption is widespread in business than in government; Albanians and Kosovars are the exceptions. Among the countries of the Balkan region, perceptions of widespread corruption in business are least common in Montenegro (66%) and most common in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia (86% each). Perceptions of widespread corruption in government are again least common in Montenegro (49%) and most common in Kosovo (84%). But it is worth noting that majorities in neighboring Greece (a member of the EU since 1981) also see corruption as widespread in business (73%) and the government (55%).

Is corruption widespread throughout the government in your country, or not?
Is corruption widespread within the businesses located in your country, or not?

 

Yes, in
business

Yes, in
government

 

%

%

Albania

68

73

Bosnia and Herzegovina

86

81

Croatia

83

77

Kosovo

72

84

Macedonia

86

74

Montenegro

66

49

Serbia

82

71

Bribes More Harmful Than Useful

Majorities in Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia report that using personal contacts, small gifts, or envelopes to get things done is more harmful than useful. Montenegro is the lone exception, but even there a plurality of residents (45%) think these acts are harmful. A fairly consistent minority of at least 10% in many of these countries thinks these acts are more useful than harmful. Albanians are the least likely (6%) to say these acts are more useful than harmful.

The possibility in this country to use personal contacts, small gifts, or “envelopes”
in order
to get things done is more useful than harmful, or more harmful than useful?

 

More useful
than harmful

More harmful
 than useful

Don't know/
Refused

 

%

%

%

Albania

6

64

29

Bosnia and Herzegovina

11

56

33

Croatia

14

64

22

Kosovo

9

65

27

Macedonia

12

72

15

Montenegro

14

45

41

Serbia

9

66

25

But Most Bribes Honored

Even though most people in the Balkans see corruption as both widespread and harmful, it remains difficult to fight when it seems to be an effective way to get things done. At least 7 in 10 respondents in each country who admitted to bribing a government official or a civil servant during the past year report that the person who received the bribe delivered what he or she promised.

Did the person who received the bribe from you deliver what she/he promised?
Asked of those who reported they paid a bribe to a government
official or civil servant in the last year

 

Yes

No

Too
early
to say

Don't
know/
Refused

 

%

%

%

%

Albania

73

9

6

12

Bosnia and Herzegovina

72

10

3

15

Croatia

70

11

5

14

Kosovo

78

11

2

9

Macedonia

71

13

6

10

Montenegro

76

8

2

15

Serbia

73

11

3

14


Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted in between December 2006 and January 2007 with nationally representative samples of residents aged 15 and older in each country with the following sample sizes: Albania 1,000, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,000, Croatia 1,000, Macedonia 1,000, Montenegro 800, and Serbia 1,500 (Kosovo 1,000). For results based on samples of these sizes, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±2.2 to ±3.5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/102757/Corruption-Balkans-Real-Issue-People.aspx
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