On April 13, South East European (SEE) countries took a major step towards improving efficacy and ownership of regional anti-corruption activities by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing funds to the Regional Secretariat Liaison Office (RSLO) of the Stability Pact Anti-Corruption Initiative (SPAI). The Rule of Law Initiative has support SPAI since its inception in 2000, most recently by providing an advocacy grant and other support.
Seven of nine SPAI member countries (Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Romania) signed the MoU. Each country pledged €24,000 of financial support from July 2007 through June 2008 to support the objectives of the MoU, which include consolidating the capacity of the SPAI-RSLO to 1) act as the SEE Anti-Corruption Resource Center, and 2) serve as a focal point for regional anti-corruption cooperation through the facilitation of best practices and the dissemination of lessons learnt.
The Rule of Law Initiative has worked with SPAI over the past year to achieve program sustainability in anticipation of the end a USAID grant on June 30. The number of countries that have committed to continue and expand SPAI’s regional secretariat has exceeded expectations.
The Rule of Law Initiative’s Central Europe and Eurasia Division (CEELI) has been involved with SPAI since its inception in 2000. Supported by the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Rule of Law Initiative's CEELI Division and SPAI have implemented numerous projects, including:
- freedom of information advocacy in Croatia
- anti-corruption awareness raising and training for justice system professionals in Macedonia
- transparency in court administration in Moldova
- judicial integrity and anti-corruption capacity building in Romania
- anti-corruption law enforcement legal reform and implementation in Serbia and Montenegro
- RSLO institution-building support in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact Erhard Busek stressed the importance of regional co-operation in the fight against corruption and noted that the signing of the MoU demonstrates that SEE countries recognize the added value of the anti-corruption initiative.