On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, ambassador Whitting delivered opening remarks together with the Minister of Justice of Montenegro, Ambassadors of Germany, European Union and United States, and the executive director of NGO MANS at the 9th National Anti-Corruption Conference.
Honourable Minister, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to speak to you about the topic that is of key importance for the future of Montenegro.
Being members of public administration, we often use terms such as “predestined” and “of vital importance” to describe events in the country that, although important, rarely attract the attention of ordinary citizens.
In this case, there is no such danger. Just mention the word “corruption” anywhere, to any passer-by, and everyone will know what it is all about. It is an evil that is present in each country, in all layers of society. I don’t want to say that it is equally present everywhere, but there is no country that can claim to be completely free of corruption.
Corruption erodes the society on many different levels, the most obvious being the collective level, where the system that is supposed to serve citizens becomes the system served by citizens. Nevertheless, the biggest damage is done at the individual level, where corruption is eroding personal integrity and principles of ordinary citizens.
That is why we are not fighting corruption in order to fulfil someone’s expectations and meet standards. Fight against corruption is the fight to become a better person, and to transform our society into a better one, one that we will not be ashamed of and that we can leave for our children.
Many positive things have been accomplished in this area in Montenegro. MANS and other non-governmental organisations have a significant role in this, and I would like to congratulate them for their efforts.
However, best results have been achieved through joint efforts of all parties involved in the fight against corruption, particularly in areas where non-governmental sector and government institutions acted as partners. I am aware that this cooperation is not always easy, and that approaches and methods are often different, but we cannot ignore the fact that corruption is our mutual enemy and that everyone’s contributions in the fight against corruption are welcome. Anyone who is fighting this evil is my and our fellow soldier.
This fight will be particularly important in the upcoming year, which I will unsurprisingly call the year “of vital importance”. It is the election year, year of reforms in the rule of law area. Many of those reforms are directly linked to the fight against corruption. Reforms will be successful if the citizens are able to feel and know that things are improving and that their voice and contribution are appreciated.
You are the people that are able to recognise this simple truth and are ready to fight for it.
I wish you luck.