Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States - Riga Stradiņš University

Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States. Report Launch & Conference

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illicit-networks-conf-introDate: Tuesday, 17 June 2014 (10:00–12:00)

Venue: Rīga Stradiņš University, 16 Dzirciema Street, Rīga, LV-1007, Latvia

Language: Latvian and English (simultaneous interpretation)

Organised by the International IDEA, Rīga Stradiņš University and Latvia State Police

BACKGROUND

One of the biggest threats to democracy today is infiltration of political processes by transnational organized crime around the world. It undermines constitutional frameworks and the rule of law, it violates the integrity of the electoral process, and it corrupts political parties and the very principle of democratic representation.

At the same time, political actors, security agencies and civil society organizations around the world are working hard to address these challenges, looking for innovative ideas to curb the influence of organized crime and illicit networks. In the Baltic States, International IDEA was invited to take a closer look at this threat and support efforts to improve legal and practical mechanisms to response to this problem.

The “Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States” report therefore explores how the Baltic States are affected by illicit interests. It looks into how illicit networks and political actors forge relations in this region, from illicit financing of political campaigns, to intimidation of voters, establishment of new political parties, joint economic enterprises and money laundering operations. The authors identify policy responses to this phenomenon, highlighting challenges in implementing them and proposing options on how to strengthen these responses.

PURPOSE OF THE EVENT

This event seeks to gather a selected groups of policy makers, law enforcement agents and civil society organizations to share the report “Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States” and use this as a platform to discuss some of the current challenges that organized crime poses to the legitimacy of democratic politics. Also, the event will be an opportunity to share some of the efforts made to overcome this problem.

The experience from the Baltic States will also serve International IDEA to learn from the experience of this region and support democratic transitions in other regions of the world.

METHODOLOGY

Panel discussion with six presenters: two representatives from Latvia, two from Estonia and two from Lithuania. The panel will be mixed between politicians and members of law enforcing agencies or anti-corruption authorities. The discussion will focus on the region’s challenges regarding the nexus between illicit interests and politics, and the lessons learnt in overcoming this threat. The “Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States” report will serve as a background document for the discussion.

Rather than presentations, the event wants to create a platform for an active discussion among the panellists. They will therefore receive a set of questions before the event so that they can prepare, and the moderator will use those questions to guide the discussion.

DRAFT AGENDA

9:30–10:00 Registration & Coffee
10:00–10:05 Opening remarks Toms Baumanis, Vice-Rector for Development, RSU
10:05–10:15 Keynote speech Baiba Broka, Minister of Justice, Latvia
10:15–10:25 Presentation of the report “Illicit networks and politics in the Baltic states” Catalina Uribe Burcher, Programme Officer, Democracy, Conflict and Security, Int. IDEA
10:25–11:10  Illicit networks in the Baltic states Panellists:
Artis Velšs, Deputy Chief, Latvia State Police
Mati Ombler, Head of Corruption Bureau, Central Criminal Police, Estonia
Arturas Petkus, Law professor, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

Questions for panellists

 

1) Historical perspectives:

In your country, how did illicit networks re-shape during and after the democratic transition? What were the most vulnerable economic and geographical areas these networks operated? How did the political transition open and close opportunities for these illicit networks in your country?

2) Current situation:

How does the current situation reflect this legacy? What external [transnational, international, regional] factors beyond national borders do you see still facilitate these operations?

3) Measures taken:

What have been the most important successful measures taken to counteract these illicit networks in your country? What challenges remain?

NOTE: each question will be answered by the panellists in sequence, in a discussion format. Each panellist has 5 minutes per question. The moderator will provide introduction to the questions. Time will be strictly observed by the moderator.

11:10–11:55  Political corruption in the Baltic states Panellists:
Baiba Broka, Minister of Justice, Latvia
Ken-Marti Vaher, MP, former Minister of Interior & Minister of Justice, Estonia
Arturas Petkus, Law professor, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

Questions for panellists

 

1) Historical perspectives:

In your country, how did the political transition after soviet independence deal with the legacy of corruption? What challenges remain as part of this legacy?

2) Current situation:

How do political actors in your country face the influence of economic interests? In what specific sectors and in what political processes are these problems more acute? How has the political integration into the EU affected these practices?

3) Measures taken:

In your view, what specific measures have been particularly successful in dealing with political corruption in your country? What challenges still remain? What new mechanisms could be used to deal with political corruption, particularly in light of the issues discussed during the previous session?

NOTE: each question will be answered by the panellists in sequence, in a discussion format. Each panellist has 5 minutes per question. The moderator will provide introduction to the questions. Time will be strictly observed by the moderator.

11:10–11:55 Closing remarks Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher, Senior Programme Officer, International IDEA




Rīga Stradiņš University, 16 Dzirciema Street, Rīga, LV-1007, Latvia, +371 67409261 (UTC +2), international@rsu.lv