Turkey’s corruption score, which had been sliding since 2013, has gone up by one point in 2018, back to its 2016 level. Despite a slight boost in its global corruption ranking for the first time in five years, the country continues to struggle with corruption in the public sector, according to U.S. watchdog Transparency International.
In December 2013, Turkey was rocked by a corruption case alleging that several top businessmen and officials had taken part in a money-laundering scheme to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. Some 52 people, all connected to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and including Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab and two government ministers, were detained.
Turkish authorities quickly swept the case under the rug as 350 police officers involved with the investigation were removed from duty by a government decree and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then prime minister, denounced what he called a “judicial coup” against him.
A series of developments have since contributed to a further lack of transparency and restriction of freedoms in Turkey. A July 2016 coup attempt was followed by a two-year state of emergency. Then, Turkey ushered in an executive presidential system in June 2018, removing most checks and balances to Erdoğan’s rule, according to analysts.
The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2018, released on Tuesday by Transparency International, showed that Turkey, despite reversing its slide, continues to struggle from corruption. The index, which measures perceived levels of government corruption in 180 countries, scores on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Turkey scored 41 on the scale and ranked 78th among 180 countries, up from a score of 40 and a ranking of 81st a year ago.
Since 2012, Turkey has seen a decline in the health of its democracy and in the control of corruption, dropping 26 points in democracy ratings and eight points in its CPI score.
In 2018, Turkey placed lower on the list than all 28 European Union member countries. Turkey is bordered by the highest scoring region (Western Europe and the European Union, with an average score of 66) and the second lowest scoring region (Eastern Europe and Central Asia, average score of 35).
The report cited Armenia as one of its countries to watch in 2019, as it is expected to enact anti-corruption and judicial reforms this year.
More than two-thirds of all countries polled, yet no true democracies, scored below 50 in 2018, Transparency International said, with the average score being 43.
Some 20 countries made significant progress since 2012, while 16 showed declines. The vast majority of countries experienced little to no progress.
The 2018 rating reflects the deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, in addition to diminishing space for civil society and independent media in Turkey, the report stressed, noting that countries with high levels of corruption can pose serious danger for political opponents.
Reprinted from Ahval News with permission