Both the states of Southeast Europe and Germany want to increase trust in the judiciary by strengthening judicial ethics and by preventing and combating corruption. However, they differ not only in the points of departure but also in the way they approach this issue. But these very differences give rise to a particularly fruitful dialogue.

This is one of the results of the regional conference "Judicial Ethics and Fight against Corruption in the Judiciary: Comparative Experiences and common Challenges", which the IRZ organised in cooperation with the German Association of Judges and the Macedonian Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors in Skopje, Macedonia, on 14 and 15 November 2013.

The German Ambassador Gudrun Steinacker gave a welcome address at this event which was attended by judges as well as by representatives of the further training institutions for judges and public prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The speakers were the Judge at the Macedonian Supreme Court (ret.) Ljubinka Muratovska-Markovska, the Director of the Academy and Head of the Macedonian GRECO Delegation Aneta Arnaudovksa, her German counterpart Marcus Busch of the Federal Ministry of Justice, as well as the Vice-President of the German Association of Judges, the Judge at the Higher Regional Court Andrea Titz. The event focused, among other topics, on the evaluation of the judiciary by GRECO (Groupe d'Etats contre la Corruption), which will soon be carried out in Macedonia and Germany.

The presentations and contributions to the discussions showed that judicial ethics is understood as a compulsory system of rules in the transformation states which is reinforced by sanctions. In Germany, an extensive codification of ethical rules of conduct is viewed with scepticism. The judges and public prosecutors of the transformation states are committed to disclose their financial situation, and they are forbidden to engage in any political activities. This was substantiated by one of the discussants with the "mental condition" prevailing in the societies. This condition, he went on, was characterised by great national, religious and political sensitivities in the states of former Yugoslavia. Against this background, he concluded, an explicit political activity of judges might be detrimental to the reputation of the judiciary which still has to fight for its credibility anyway.

Cases of corruption in the judiciary were not denied by some discussants. However, it should not be concluded from this that the whole judiciary was steeped in corruption. After all, it was stated, it was the individual personality of a judge that mattered.

Furthermore, a publication was presented which deals with the theses on judicial ethics and exemplary cases drawn up by the respective working group of the Association of Judges in Macedonian and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian translations. This publication gives the judges from the region the opportunity to deal with these materials and the related German discussion independently.