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The capture of the state in the Western Balkans and Turkey is enriching politicians and their networks at the severe cost of ordinary citizens. It is also eroding public trust in government institutions, as they are increasingly being used to serve private interests.

The presence of state capture in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey has been reported in the European Commission’s enlargement country reports, but its underpinnings and motivations are not sufficiently addressed in the reforms promoted in the region.

Efforts have been made to create legal mechanisms and transparent, accountable institutions to address control of the nations’ affairs by private interests. These have aimed to guarantee judicial and parliamentary independence as well as equal implementation of laws. Effective rule of law, however, remains a challenge in the countries. It is constantly being undermined by political leaders whose main motivation is to capture the state for private gain. This leads to widespread abuse of public office.

This Transparency International report examines two key enabling factors of state capture in the Western Balkans and Turkey: impunity for high-level corruption and tailor-made laws. The report provides insight into how the judiciary ineffectively handles grand corruption and other corruption by high-level officials. It also shows how this problem and undue influence on law-making in the service of private interests help to achieve and maintain state capture.