Dmitry Feoktistov: Not only the G20, but the entire world is focused on issue of corruption
Dmitry Feoktistov, Deputy Director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, in an interview to the RIA Novosti news agency spoke on anti-corruption activities of the G20 and Russia's proposals in the field of fighting corruption.
Question: Why is the G20 so focused on countering corruption?
Dmitry Feoktistov: Not only the G20, but the entire world is focused on this issue, because corruption is a huge multidimensional problem. For instance, morally, corruption is eroding people's souls - both the bribe-takers and bribe-payers are involved in unsavory deals. It also has an enormous economic dimension: the developing economies are losing between $20 billion and $40 billion annually due to corruption. And a political dimension as well: anti-corruption measures applied by some countries are sometimes used by the other not with fair-minded intentions.
The G20 is drawing particular attention to the problem, since a two-year Anti-Corruption Action Plan was adopted last year. Now, during Russia's G20 presidency, we are halfway towards its completion. This is a comprehensive document, with targets in more than 10 different areas of work. We discussed it during the first meeting of the Anti-Corruption Working Group in Moscow in February. The next meeting will take place in Ottawa in June.
Question: Why is this issue so important for Russia during its G20 presidency?
Dmitry Feoktistov: Our today's conference is being held by Russia in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODS). We wanted to continue the tradition - such conferences were held last year and a year before. Given the tremendous attention paid by Russia to combating corruption, international community would find it strange if Russia did not hold such an event under the auspices of its G20 presidency.
Question: What are the existing standards for fighting corruption?
Dmitry Feoktistov: The UN Convention against Corruption is a cornerstone of the global fight against corruption describing in detail all areas of the anti-corruption efforts. Like most G20 countries, Russia has ratified it. Germany and Japan have yet to do this, mostly for domestic reasons, but they are working on it. We have a reason to believe that these countries will also ratify the convention in the next few years - not today or tomorrow, and not even during the Russian G20 presidency, but in the next few years.
The OECD has its own Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Anti-Bribery Convention). The G20 shows poorer performance here, far from all the G20 countries have joint it. However, and that is what I would like to emphasize, Russia has ratified it. However strong could be the desire of some foreign analysts to accuse Russia of lacking resolve to combat corruption, or claim that it is not ready for international cooperation in this field, by no means this is the case.
We are actively involved in the implementation process of the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan. I hope we'll be able to report to the G20 Leaders on its full implementation next year, after Australia brings its G20 Presidency to a conclusion.
In addition, taking into account that corruption was not invented yesterday and that we won't defeat it tomorrow, Russia suggests elaborating a long-term comprehensive G20 anti-corruption strategy. Current plans have one or two years perspective, but we believe this is not enough. We must look beyond the horizon, and outline all the relevant goals of the fight against corruption. We also hope that our partners will back our initiative this year.
Question: What are Russia's proposals to the participants of the conference?
Dmitry Feoktistov: Of course, Russia has not come to the conference empty-handed. We've brought a strong team with us - Russian Sherpa and Chief of the Presidential Expert Department Ksenia Yudaeva, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNODC Director General Yury Fedotov, Presidential Advisor Sergei Dubik. What we want to demonstrate by this is that we have enlisted our best experts in the fight against corruption.
We've also put forward two concrete initiatives. This is unusual for the the G20 President, but this time Russia put forward a number of initiatives in the fields that in our opinion require special attention of the G20.
One of them is to study the relationship between corruption, anti-corruption measures and economic growth. The more aggressively a country is fighting corruption, the more opportunities it has for economic growth.
The second initiative deals with countering corruption during international events, primarily in sports. This issue is the talk of the town and it is important for us because we are going to host many international events in the next few years (for instance, the Student Games in Kazan and the Olympics in Sochi). The same applies to events during our presidency of the G20, and of the G8 next year. On July 1 we'll assume the presidency of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF).
This is why we are paying particular attention to the anti-corruption agenda. We want to exchange ideas and experience with our colleagues from different countries, and to determine what measures can help make these events decent and transparent keeping corruption risks to a minimum.
Question: And what is proposed by Russia in order to counter corruption in sports?
Dmitry Feoktistov: The documentary Oh Sport, You Are Life! was released in 1982, after the Olympics in Moscow. And this is actually the case, while sports play an enormous role in the lives of millions if not billions of people. Some are active athletes, the other are fans of national teams. Therefore, for most countries, overcoming corruption in sports means getting rid of corruption in a substantial part of public, political and economic life.
Russia has proposed joining the anti-corruption efforts of different international players. Many organizations are involved in the fight against corruption - UNODC, the European Union, Interpol, FIFA and UEFA. But, as we see it, these efforts are all disintegrated. They are aimed at eliminating particular types of corrupt behavior in sports and sport-related activities. Some are countering corruption in the bidding process for hosting sporting events; the other are countering the practice of contractual matches; and still others are focusing on the corruption risks when constructing sports facilities.
We hold this to be necessary to adopt a comprehensive approach in order to make anti-corruption measures more effective. The core idea of the initiative we voiced at the conference in Paris is to merge the efforts of all parties, and to establish an umbrella platform, tentatively named the Global Alliance for Integrity in Sports. The goal is to unite the efforts of governments, businesses, civil society, the media and all those who are encountering this problem. We could think of holding an annual meeting of all the interested parties to discuss measures that are envisaged by the existing initiatives, and to elaborate a strategic plan of action. We want various anti-corruption measures to complement each other. Only in this case will the fight against corruption in sports become truly comprehensive.
Question: Will the results of the conference have an effect on the preparations and hosting of the Olympics in Sochi and sports in Russia in general?
Dmitry Feoktistov: All issues discussed by the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group have a direct bearing on the hosting of sporting events. When this conference was planned our partners had some apprehensions about the conference's focus on anti-corruption measures in sports rather than public events. They were worried that fingers would be pointed at some countries, while others would be criticized for inadequate anti-corruption measures during sporting events. We explained that taking into consideration the number of sports events that we will host in the next few years, we'd only be able to point a finger at ourselves. We are not embarrassed to acknowledge that we have problems, like many other countries do. What we are discussing is directly related to hosting the Olympics in any country, not just the Sochi Olympics.
Question: And what results will be expectedly achieved by the conference?
Dmitry Feoktistov: Needless to say, we are not making any binding decisions. This is more of an opportunity to brainstorm on how to promote international cooperation. But those hints that we'll hear, and the initiatives that will probably be launched (we hope that ours will be among them), will help us determine priority measures to bring more transparency and accountability to sporting events.
Russia plans to report on the results of the conference at the G20 Sherpas' Meeting in St.Petersburg in May, and further discuss them at the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group meeting in June.