Is Turkey perceived to be more corrupt? What does Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index tell us?

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Is Turkey perceived to be more corrupt?
What does Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index tell us?

Abstract

Transparency International is best known for its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that is published annually. The CPI measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide on a scale from 100 (perceived to be highly clean) to 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) in order to rank the countries and provides a rough proxy for illustrating the pervasiveness of corruption. In the last weeks, TI has publicly announced the results of its 2015 Corruption Perception Index including 168 countries from around the globe, including Turkey. The results show that Turkey’s score declined by 3 points to 42, from the previous year’s score of 45. This paper assesses the declining trend in Turkey’s CPI scores and discusses what these numbers tell us about the gap between law and practice in Turkish anti-corruption policy.

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Transparency International (TI) is a civil society organization working globally and locally in more than 100 countries. TI is best known for its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that is published annually. The CPI measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide on a scale from 100 (perceived to be highly clean) to 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) in order to rank the countries and provides a rough proxy for illustrating the pervasiveness of corruption. As the best-known corruption indicator CPI reflects the opinions of experts and businesspeople on public sector corruption. The data comes from various surveys conducted by international institutions specializing in governance and business climate analysis. Turkey’s score draws on Bertelsmann Stiftung Sustainable Governance Indicators 2014, Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index, IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide, World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey (EOS), Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index and Global Insight Country Risk Rating.[1]

In the last weeks, TI has publicly announced the results of its 2015 Corruption Perception Index including 168 countries from around the globe. The results show that Turkey’s score declined by 3 points to 42, from the previous year’s score of 45. This score places Turkey in the 66th position among the 168 participating countries.[2] The declining trend in Turkey’s score is not new. In the 2014 Index Turkey’s score has fallen from 50 to 45. According to country rankings, while Turkey was 53rd in the 2013 Index, in 2014 it ranked as the 64th country. This was the utmost decline among 175 countries. TI Turkey mentioned that “by this sudden decline, Turkey has reset its improvement during the last 6 years”.[3]

Turkish authorities are not comfortable with the TI results. An officer from the Prime Ministry Inspection Board (PMIB) interviewed by the author mentioned that they had no trust in the methodology of the TI and how they got the results.[4]Although Turkey took serious steps in the last decade to fight corruption in the public sector there is no progress according to TI Index.”[5] As the coordinating agency in the anti-corruption field and as the secretariat for the ministerial anti-corruption Commission the PMIB aims to conduct an annual country-wide corruption perception survey. Yet, this has not happened until so far.

It should be mentioned that the in-depth country analyses on fighting corruption in Turkey also confirm the CPI results. Due to increased efforts to fight corruption in the last decade Turkey’s score in CPI increased from 36 in 2001 to 49 in 2012 (TI 2012). As depicted by empirical evidence Turkish governments introduced several national anti-corruption plans and adopted rather impressive amount of legal and institutional change in the last decade. After adoption of the national action plan to promote transparency and enhance good governance in public sector in 2003, an Emergency action Plan was introduced to fight corruption in 2003 which enlisted various legal and institutional measures to fight corruption. Accordingly, the Law for Financial Disclosure and on Combating Bribery and Corruption was amended in 2003, and again in 2004 in order to provide additional measures to make the law operate more efficiently. While amendments were made to the Criminal Code in 2005 to clarify the definition of corrupt activities and bribery offences, the Law on Prevention of Money Laundering was amended in 2006 to bring heavy penalties for different kinds of money laundering. Moreover, a number of legislative amendments and new laws have been introduced between 2002 and 2006 in different branches of the national legislation since there is no general anti-corruption law. Yet, these legal changes have been considered as complementary of combating corruption such as the Public Procurement Law; the Law on Public Financial Management and Control; the law on Encouraging Foreign Investment; the Law on the Right to Information; the Law about the Foundation of the Council of Ethics for the Public Service; the Law on Municipalities, and the Banking Law. The corresponding institutions needed for the enforcement of these laws have also been set up, such as; the Public Procurement Agency in 2002, the Internal Audit Coordination Board in 2004 and the Council of Ethics for the Public Service in 2004 and the Public Inspection Authority (Ombudsman) in 2010. Further, existing institutions, such as the Turkish Court of Accounts, Banking Regulatory and Supervision Agency and the Coordination Board for Combating Financial Crimes have been strengthened by incorporating several anti-corruption measures and ethical codes of conduct into their organizational laws. Last but not least, Ankara introduced a national anti-corruption plan in 2010 and defined various measures to be taken between 2010 and 2014 for combating corruption and establish hed a Ministerial Committee under coordination of the PMIB to monitor the implementation of the plan (Yilmaz and Soyaltin 2012; Ömürgönülşen and Doig 2012).

In addition to efforts conducted at the national level, the national authorities actively supported anti-corruption initiatives at the international level by ratifying the main conventions on anti-corruption such as the Council of Europe Criminal and Civil Law Conventions on Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2003, and Council of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime in 2004, UN Convention against Corruption in 2006, OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 2006. More importantly, Turkey has joined the Council of Europe ‘Group of States against Corruption’ (GRECO) in 2004, and has agreed to implement their recommendations (Adaman 2011). With the recent reforms, Turkey had implemented 15 of the 21 recommendations of the GRECO, which were introduced for Turkey in its 2005 report (GRECO 2008). In line with the GRECO recommendations Turkish authorities introduced a judicial reform package in 2012 and another in 2014 and amended preventive measures, which, among other things, relate to bribery and corruption related crimes. Yet, GRECO mentions that several issues have been left untouched, such as improving legislation and transparency on political party and election campaign financing and lifting the extensive immunities granted to parliamentarians (GRECO 2014) while the implementation of legal rules remained seriously limited in practise.

There is almost a consensus among scholars working on corruption related issues in Turkey with regard to gap between formal rules on paper and changes in practises (Adaman 2011; Michael 2004; Ömürgönülşen & Doig 2012; Soyaltin 2012; Ulusoy 2014; Yalçın Mousseau 2012). This gap is confirmed by various international organizations. For example, Global Integrity that provides integrity score for countries based on an analysis of twenty international datasets from the World Bank, United Nations, UNDP and Transparency International among others, scores Turkey with 57-Very Weak in the implementation realm while the legal framework score is relatively good with a score of 75-Moderate (Global Integrity 2010). European Union also evaluates Turkey’s track record in the fight against corruption as inadequate. In its 2015 Progress report for Turkey Commission welcomes the level of legal and institutional preparation to effectively prevent and fight corruption but underlines pervasiveness of corruption in the country especially on the high-profile level (European Commissions 2015:16). Referring to 17-25 December corruption probe targeting high-level personalities, including members of the government and their families, the Commission criticizes ineffective investigation process. Following the corruption allegations several amendments were introduced to the Law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors while a large number of police officers, judges and prosecutors linked to the investigation were reassigned to different positions (European Commission 2014:2). Moreover, the government introduced a regulation requiring prosecutors and police to inform superiors in the Interior Ministry before carrying out investigations or detentions. Yet, the Council of State overturned the regulation as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, in December 2014, the corruption probe was completely closed after the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office rejected appeals filed against an earlier decision to dismiss corruption and bribery charges against the 53 suspects[6].

Together with strict restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of media, increasing censorship on internet and social media in the recent years, the unlawful government interference in the judiciary during the corruption investigations deteriorated the reforms that have been reported as improvement during the last few years. As mentioned by head of TI Turkey the adverse and unstable policy of government has been the main reason of Turkey′s decline in the ranking of the CPI 2015. [7] This outcome shows that the main problem in Turkey is beyond the corruption issue which cannot be tackled separately from struggle for democracy and freedom.

Dr. Diğdem Soyaltın, Editor, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey)

Please cite this publication as follows:

Soyaltın, D. (March, 2016), “Is Turkey perceived to be more corrupt? What does Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index tell us?”, Vol. V, Issue 3, pp.33-37, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=11138)

References

Adaman F. (2011) ‘Is Corruption a Drawback to Turkey’s Accession to the European Union?’, South European Society and Politics, 16:02, 309-321

European Commission (2014), Turkey Progress Report for 2014, in: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2014/20141008-turkey-progress-report_en.pdf,

European Commission (2015), Turkey Progress Report for 2015, in: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2015/20151110_report_turkey.pdf

Global Integrity (2008) Turkey Country Profile 2008, in: 257 http://report.globalintegrity.org/ Turkey/2008

Global Integrity (2010) Turkey Country Profile 2010, in: http://www.globalintegrity.org/report/ turkey/2010

GRECO (2008), Compliance Report on Turkey, Joint First and Second Round Evaluation, Greco RC-I/II 2E, Strasbourg, 4 April 2008

Michael, B. (2004) ‘Anti-Corruption in the Turkey’s EU Accession’, Turkish Policy Quarterly 3(4).

Ömürgönülsen, U. & Doig, A. (2012) ‘Why the Gap? Turkey, EU Accession, Corruption and Culture’, Turkish Studies, vol. 13, no.1, pp. 7-25

Soyaltin, D. (2012) ‘Europeanization Decoupled? Fight Against Corruption in Turkey.’ Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London: Research Turkey, Vol 1, issue 3, pp.35-41

Transparency International (TI) (2012) U4 Expert Answer Overview of Corruption and Anti-corruption in Turkey, January

Ulusoy, K. (2014) ‘Turkey’s Fight against Corruption: A critical Assesment.’ Global Turkey in Europe, Stiftung Mercator, in: /IPC http://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/gte_c_19.pdf

Yalçın, Mousseau D. (2010) ‘Is Turkey democratizing with EU reforms?: an assessment of human rights, corruption and socio-economic conditions’,  Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, vol.12, no.1, pp. 63-80.

Yılmaz, G. and Soyaltın, D. (2014) ‘Zooming into the Domestic in Europeanisation: Promotion of Fight against Corruption and Minority Rights in Turkey’, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, vol. 16, no.1, pp. 11-29).

Endnotes

[1] Transparency International CPI 2014 has been released. 27 January 2016 .(http://en.seffaflik.org/corruption-perception-index-2015-has-been-released/)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Transparency International CPI 2014 has been released. 3 December 2014 ( http://en.seffaflik.org/transparency-international%E2%80%B2s-corruption-perception-index-2014-has-been-released/)

[4] Interview with an officer from Prime Ministry Inspection Board, Anti-Fraud Coordination Board, (17.04.2012), in Ankara, Turkey

[5] Ibid.

[6] Today’s Zaman, 16 December 2014.( http://www.todayszaman.com/latest-news_i-stanbul-police-again-defy-arrest-order-as-top-prosecutors-reassigned_336764.html)

[7] Transparency International CPI 2014 has been released. 27 January 2016 .(http://en.seffaflik.org/corruption-perception-index-2015-has-been-released/)

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