OPINION

Causes of corruption

How can one disagree with someone who condemns corruption in public administration? Who can snub a judicial official who calls upon prosecutors to join a fight against corruption, an unyielding battle against illegality, an uncompromising war to defend the individual and social rights of the Greeks and the foreigners who are in this country, like Supreme Court Prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis did a few days ago? The issue that Kroustallakis catapulted onto center stage is a major one indeed. But easy as it may be to condemn graft, it is as difficult to eradicate it. Punishing civil servants who engage in illicit transactions and take bribes is necessary and can yield some results. But the point is not to fill Greek prisons with wicked officials but rather to eliminate the causes that foster an entire system of obscure dealings and corruption. Everyday experience leads to the conclusion that a considerable share of citizens are forced, in one way or another, to use bribes; not in order to carry out an illegal task but in order to avoid a big fuss. This fuss is caused by a web of laws and administrative acts which supposedly ensure the legality of an act or a resolution, but which are nevertheless largely useless. Citizens are harassed as a ridiculous, anachronistic and bureaucratic system forces them to get in personal contact with staff of variable rank in public offices. These two elements suffice to breed the tentacles of corruption which have spread across the public services. Once a corrupt system has been established, bribes or kickbacks for the implementation or cover-up of illegal activities are an inevitable outgrowth of this anomaly. As long as such a network exists within the public sector, there is little that the sword of justice can do, sharp as it may be.