By Shakeh Avoyan
The Armenian authorities may still decide to set up a special body charged with combating rampant government corruption, President Robert Kocharian’s recently appointed anti-graft adviser said on Thursday.
The official, Bagrat Yesayan, denied parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s claims that Armenia’s three-party governing coalition has decided against the creation of the body sought by one of its members, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Baghdasarian was quoted in newspapers as saying that the decision was made at the last meeting of the coalition’s coordinating council.
“There was no explicit conclusion at the council’s meeting that such a body will not be created,” Yesayan told reporters. He said its existence could be indispensable after the publication of the government’s promised anti-corruption strategy which is expected by the end of this year. He argued that somebody will have to coordinate and oversee the plan’s implementation.
Dashnaktsutyun, of which Yesayan is a member, made a fight against corruption the central theme of its election campaign for the May parliamentary elections and its subsequent participation in Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s coalition government. The idea of a powerful anti-corruption agency was opposed by Markarian’s Republican Party, and Yesayan’s appointment last month came as a compromise solution designed to satisfy Dashnaktsutyun.
“Corruption in Armenia has reached a point where it threatens our national security,” Yesayan warned. But he added that the situation is not as grave as it is often presented inside and outside Armenia, pointing to the latest global corruption survey conducted by the anti-graft watchdog Transparency International.
The survey indicates a slight drop in the scale of government corruption in Armenia which ranked 78th in the list of 133 countries classified by Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index. Neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan, by contrast, shared 124th place in the global rankings.
Yesayan said his main task is to identify the main sources of corrupt practices in Armenia and suggest concrete policy solutions to Kocharian.