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A lifetime of innovation


Leader urges fight against corruption

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus urged lawmakers on Tuesday to strengthen the fight against corruption so the ex-Soviet country can be a properly functioning EU member when it joins in 2004. Lithuania is one of 10 mainly eastern European countries named by Brussels last year as likely to take part in the European Union´s planned 2004 enlargement. It sees membership as a way to guarantee the independence it won from the Soviet Union in 1991 and the best way to ensure stable economic development so living standards can catch up with the West. Key to this will be the generous funds the EU gives to its less developed members. "In order to receive allocations from the European Union structural funds, we must ensure their transparent and effective management," the president said in his annual state-of-the-nation address to parliament. Before accepting new members, the EU wants to see that candidates can adopt the bloc´s body of law and meet its standards of justice, with the rule of law prevailing on the streets, in courts and in government. "We must overcome manifestations of oligarchy, double standards as well as corruption in politics and our daily life," Adamkus said. Citing a survey recently conducted by Transparency International, Adamkus said 76 percent of Lithuanians believed corruption was a problem and more than half thought political parties and the parliament itself were rife with corruption. The president called on parties and officials to finally "get rid of bad habits inherited from the Soviet past". He said that, among other things, civil service legislation should be improved and a body created to oversee party financing, with strict enforcement of a ban on corporate contributions.

Business Recorder (Reuters), April 3, 2002

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