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2009 Annual Conference, Nova Gorica

Nova Gorica_IThe 9thEPAC/EACN Annual Conference took place in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, from 4 to 6 November 2009. More than 90 participants from 24 EU Member States, Western Balkan countries and overseas attended.

 Nova Gorica_IIThe conference was held under the motto "Continuing the Dialogue - Fighting Corruption with Integrity”.In the presence of the Slovenian Minister of the Interior, Katarina Kresal, and the mayor of Nova Gorica, Mirko Brulc, the formal reception was opened by the conference host and President of the Slovenian Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Drago Kos, and the President of EPAC/EACN, Martin Kreutner. In her speech, Minister Kresal emphasized that corruption was a vicious circle, destroying the democratic order and the rule of law, and weakening the state’s defences. She also stressed that international cooperation and awareness-raising measures were key elements for the fight against corruption.

On the second day of the conference, several keynote speakers delivered presentations on a range of current topics relating to the fight against corruption and police oversight issues. They also elaborated on recent findings and the relationship between anti-corruption and human rights.Wolfgang Rau, Executive Secretary of GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), outlined the latest developments in the fields of police oversight and anti-corruption across Europe and gave a short update on the monitoring mechanism of GRECO. Mark Pieth, Chairman of the OECD Working Group against Bribery in International Business, provided a brief historical background of the OECD and focused on the fight against corruption in the private sector. He especially pointed out that despite excellent international tools for fighting corruption, the challenge to appropriately implement them plagues many countries.

In her striking presentation, Julia Kozma, Assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, highlighted the connection and interaction between corruption and human rights. In her contribution, Slagjana Taseva, an expert in criminal law from F.Y.R. Macedonia, took an in-depth look into the concept of integrity, taking it as a basis for the comprehensive fight against corruption.Representing Franz-Hermann Brüner, Director General of the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), who was unfortunately unable to attend the conference due to health reasons, Margarete Hofmann presented OLAF’s address to the EPAC Conference. Additional thoughts from the European Commission on EU anti-corruption efforts, especially in the framework of the Stockholm Programme and financial aspects in this context, were the subject of the address given by the representative of the Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security.

Following the practice of the last years’ EPAC conferences, police oversight and anti-corruption matters were partly dealt with in two different strands. The Police Oversight Workshop discussed recent developments and cases, especially in the context of the European human rights architecture, as well as possible conclusions to be drawn. The Anti-Corruption Workshop focused on case studies examining successes and failures in preventing corruption.After this, representatives of the Council of Europe’s Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics pointed out the crucial role of public perception and discussion of issues of integrity.

One of the most significant points of this year’s conference agenda was the constituent meeting of the EACN, which EPAC had been tasked to implement based upon its existing structures by Council Decision 2008/852/JHA, OJ L 301/38, and the formal constitution of EPAC. Therefore, the EU now also has a formal voice of anti-corruption authorities. In addition, the informal cooperation in the context of EPAC will be continued, also offering access to the anti-corruption and police oversight authorities of the Council of Europe countries.The two drafts of the EPAC and EACN Constitutions, jointly elaborated in the EPAC/EACN "Constitution” Working Groups in Vienna, were unanimously adopted by the participants. Martin Kreutner (Austria) was elected as President, Drago Kos (Slovenia) and Ferenc Frankberger (Hungary) as Vice-Presidents for Anti-Corruption, and Nicholas Long (UK) and Gil L. Bourdoux (Belgium) as Vice-Presidents for Police Oversight.

At the end of the conference, the Nova Gorica or "Perla” Declaration - "Perla" refers to the conference venue - was unanimously adopted by the participants.Last but not least, we would like to once again express our deepest gratitude to the Slovenian Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, especially to its President, Drago Kos, for their kind hospitality and tremendous commitment, which made this Annual Conference a resounding success.

 

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