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On “Integrity of Civil Servants”: NHC interviews Vlado Planinčić and Irina Aghapishvili

27 June 2017

Integrity is connected with the rule of law concept. It is not something that only comes with education and culture; civil servants can construct this to bring about change – Irina Aghapishvili

Integrity of Civil Servants was the topic of the first training of the new Matra Rule of Law Training Programme, which was held May 10th-19th, 2017, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The aim of the training was to increase the understanding of the participants of the Dutch and EU framework for policies on integrity and thus to strengthen the institutional capacities in the field of rule of law within government institutions in Georgia, Moldova, Turkey, Ukraine, and the Western Balkans. Thirty-six participants took part in this training, which involved engaging in working groups, attending lectures, network development, and social activities.

Meet two of the participants

Vlado Planinčić and Irina Aghapishvili are two of the participants of this training. Vlado is a 28 year-old advisor to the Mayor of the Municipality of Istočni Stari Grad-City of East Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Irina is 31 years old and is the head of the Civil Service Institution Set-up and Practice Generalisation Department at the Civil Service Bureau of Georgia and a PhD candidate. Like other participants, they are interested in strengthening the democratic institutions of their country in order to cultivate a culture of integrity.

Vlado Planinčić and Irina Aghapishvili, participants of the “Integrity of Civil Servants” training

“The main challenge facing Bosnia and Herzegovina… lies in tackling an inadequate political culture” says Vlado. The reason, he argues, is because of the country’s “recent history of radical violence and environment of crisis”.

Similarly, Irina says that “the cooperation and coordination between public institutions, especially when speaking about integrity” is one of the main problems in Georgian political life.

Gaining knowledge

The programme combines the complimentary components of theory, practical skills, and study visits. After the training, Vlado and Irina reflected on the concept of integrity in democratic governments, acknowledging the value of learning from other countries. “Not only transitioning countries face problems with integrity”, says Vlado, “but developed countries sometimes face similar issues”.

“I learned that other countries’ issues do not always emanate from cultural characteristics of nations but, rather, are caused by global economic and social factors,” says Irina.

Integrity of Rule of Law and corruption

“Integrity is connected with the rule of law concept”, says Irina. “It is not something that only comes with education and culture; civil servants can construct this to bring about change”.

She proposes that a “central independent institution [in Georgia], in charge of awareness raising and dissemination of information about good practices and issuing recommendations to individual authorities, would considerably improve the overall environment and consequently raise the public trust in governing authorities”.

“The most important thing,” says Vlado, “is to make people familiar with the concept of integrity… because the culture of integrity is the substantive element of promoting integrity in all its forms”. Moreover, he argues that understanding the importance of this concept will be the main challenge of implementing a policy on corruption. “It is a vicious cycle”, he says as he addresses the relationship between corruption and poverty.

The culture of integrity is the substantive element of promoting integrity in all its forms – Vlado Planinčić

Creating long-lasting change

The participants of the “Integrity of Civil Servants” training have expressed their sincere gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this training programme. Furthermore, they have ambitious plans for the future with regard to translating what they have learned into practical plans as to the integrity of civil servants.

“The programme is well-balanced between theory and practice. It is a perfect tool for reflection,” says Irina. She plans on gradually disseminating the knowledge she acquired by introducing concepts and practices through guidelines, commentaries, public awareness campaigns, and pieces of primary and secondary legislation currently under process.

Vlado echoes the positive remarks, saying that “this programme is a great opportunity to expand and develop existing knowledge and to get some new perspectives and insights on different topics”. He plans on expanding the acquired knowledge and using it to draft an integrity plan for his municipality.

“Certain parts of the content of this training are significantly matched to the methodology of our Ministry of Justice”, allowing him to coordinate the draft.

To learn more about upcoming Matra Rule of Law Training Programme, click here.