Today, one of the main problems in all post-communist countries is the lack of experience in exercising civic control of authorities, including local government institutions. The authoritarian communist regimes barely accepted any criticism towards the state. The current situation with underdeveloped civil society, old mentality and ineffective civic control and participation mechanisms meant that the regained freedom and independence did not change much Soviet traditions and habits. Similarly, not much has been changed after adoption of democratic standards regarding honesty and transparency of local authorities. New opportunities emerging together with free market created new corrupt opportunities for decision-makers in transition economies. Given the situation, it is important to compare experiences of different countries of creation and implementation of control and supervision of the state, and particularly, local authorities to learn from those who made a better progress in this area. There are very few organizations located in post-Communist countries that are involved in facilitation of the regular exchange of relevant information and best practices related to civic control over authorities. The joint project “No corruption. Civic control of local government” attempts to increase efforts aimed at introducing the Polish experience in promoting civic control over local government activities to the Armenian audience and applying the best practices of one country to another one.
In Poland, the process of establishing civic control over the state and local authorities has started since 1990. Although this process has not been finished yet, today we can already see some positive results of introduction of legal measures and establishment of supervisory institutions accompanied by media and NGOs efforts to evaluate the government performance in eliminating corruption. Effective mechanisms for providing information about activities of the local authorities as well as citizen’s rights in contacting them have been also introduced. The citizens’ way of thinking has been also changed: people organize themselves in committees lobbying for certain issues or protesting against concrete decisions of local officials. Such experience is quite universal and thus may be adopted in other post-communist countries, as well, including Armenia. The abovementioned project “No corruption. Civic control of local authorities” is being implemented by the Polish – Czech – Slovak Solidarity Foundation, in close cooperation with the Center for Regional Development / Transparency International Armenia, and financed by the the British Embassies in Warsaw (Poland) and Yerevan (Armenia) through the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office under the Global Opportunities Fund, Re-Uniting Europe Programme. It includes organization of two-weeks-study tour for 10 Armenian NGO’s activists, local officials and journalists. During their visit to Poland the Armenian representatives will attend lectures and participate in meetings to receive information concerning the following issues: legal and institutional supervision of local government activities, supervision of local authorities carried by independent media, daily practice of supervision of local authorities, a role of local initiatives, citizens’ committees and NGOs in supervising local officials supporting ordinary people. The study tour will follow a workshop organized in Yerevan in July 7-8, 2005 to introduce the Polish experience of counteracting corruption at local government level to the Armenian audience.. The project will end with a working meeting for the tour participants and other interested parties in order to discuss possibilities for applying the Polish practice in Armenia.
The Project implementation will be evaluated by the Project Council consisting of the following members:
- Joanna Malarczyk – Council Chairwoman (expert, Union of Citizens Advice Bureaux),
- Gra¿yna Kopiñska (Director, Program Against Corruption, Stefan Batory Foundation),
- Jan Fusiecki (journalist, „Gazeta Wyborcza”),
- Zbigniew Janas (former MP, Polish – Czech – Slovak Solidarity Foundation),
- Izabela Kraj (journalist, „Rzeczpospolita”),
- Andrzej Wielowieyski (Senator, Polish Senate).
Detailed information about the Project are available at the offices of partner organizations